Pop Quiz, Monday with Natalise Kalea

The biggest challenge is prioritization. As a startup, there is SO much to do all the time. Every day, you have to make a choice as to what you need to do and can handle today and what can be done tomorrow.

The Pop Quiz, Monday is a fun little exam that we love to give to savvy business owners. The examination is not a surprise after all since the interviewee already knew about the questions in advance. However, we can always pretend and have fun with the scenario of a young entrepreneur sitting in class nervously biting on their pencil. They are ready to take a pop quiz on a chapter that they were supposed to read the night before. Instead, they played Metroid all night on their SNES (Oops, this was me in high school). The real purpose of the pop quiz is that this is a fun way to introduce business tips from real-world experiences that you can not learn in a classroom. We want to thank our entrepreneur for being a good sport and volunteering their time to answer a few questions to help our community grow from their knowledge.

I want to introduce you to our guest today who will be taking our Pop Quiz Monday.

Can you please tell everyone your name?
Natalise Kalea

Natalise Kaleag
Photo credit: Natalise Kaleag

What is your job role?
I’m the Chief Operating Officer at CUDDLY.

Tell us about your company?
CUDDLY is a for-good marketplace, serving pet parents and rescues, alike. We enable pet parents to create CUDDLY gift lists and order everything from boutique goods like handmade sweaters and special carriers & beds to CBD oil for anxious, sick and senior pets to specialty, organic foods. We have over 10,000 products. The best thing? 5% of all CUDDLY list purchases go back to the rescue of your choice.
Furthermore, rescues can create campaigns and wishlists, as well. Donors can come in and help rescues by purchasing items from any wishlist or by donating directly to specific animals in need. We serve over 1,200 rescues around the world and have a community of over 200,000 animal lovers.

What do you love most about your job?
I love that I am building a company — and community — that literally makes a difference. Animals bring us so much joy, and by helping them, we are not only helping these wonderful, sentient beings, we’re also helping people. We work with over 1,200 rescues around the world. Many of these rescues are women-run and women-founded. We discovered that many of these founders were going into debt, paying for emergency surgeries required by the animals they were saving. CUDDLY is a solution that not only helps animals, it also then helps these rescue founders continue their good work. On the product side, we enable small business entrepreneurs and makers to sell their fantastic pet products to pet lovers everywhere. It’s a win-win.

What motivates you to get up every day and go to work?
I am passionate about animals. I get up every day and go to work because I want to create more joy in the world by keeping as many animals healthy and happy as possible.

How do your co-workers inspire you?
The whole team at CUDDLY is mission-driven. Though we are a very diverse bunch, there is one thing we have in common: we all love animals and want to create a world that enables animals to live happy joyous lives.

How do you have fun at work (team building, pranks, etc..)?
We all attend our CUDDLY community events where we interact with pets and their pet parents, as well as rescues in our community. We also have private team outings, where we work together to solve a challenge or just do random, fun, or scary things. My team forced me to go to the Queen Mary in Long Beach for “Dark Harbor” this last Halloween… I think it’s the first time they heard me scream. Lol. Nonetheless, I think it’s essential that you see your co-workers as multi-faceted human beings, not just a marketing person, developer, or manager, etc. (and vice versa!).

What are some of the challenges of your job?
The biggest challenge is prioritization. As a startup, there is SO much to do all the time. Every day, you have to make a choice as to what you need to do and can handle today and what can be done tomorrow. Sometimes it feels like everything MUST be done TODAY. And while that might happen on a few occasions, it’s not a sustainable way to build a company. The trick is to build a roadmap and board (like Jira) in your mind where you can constantly shift and re-order tasks for maximum efficiency.

What are some lessons learned from a past project that you can share with us?
I think the worst thing you can do is be inauthentic to who you are — as a product, as a company. I worked for a makeup company in the past, and they wanted to do a re-brand. They wanted so badly to be accepted in America as “American.” But authentically, they were way more multi-cultural. So all of the American-esque branding came off as fake. What ended up serving them better was to own the fact that they had strong inspirations from France and Japan and used that as an asset. And it was way cooler.

When I joined CUDDLY, I first asked the questions:

Who are we? What do we stand for? Why do we do what we do?

Everything stemmed from those three questions.

What advice would you give to someone who is starting in your industry?
The pet industry is super fun. Look at what needs are out there-there are many — and try to solve the one you’re most passionate about. Start small, run tests, learn, grow.

Thank you for taking our pop quiz today. You get an A+ for effort. You can learn more about our interviewee and their business by visiting them on the web:

Start your CUDDLY list to pamper your own pets today: www.cuddly.com/startregistry

Give to urgent-needs animals around the world:


Purchase items on behalf of rescue animals in need:


Facebook/Instagram/Twitter: @welovecuddly

YouTube: https://youtu.be/9e6PugCgSko

Author: Ricky Singh, MBA

Editor of The Startup Growth.

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