When it comes to careers, Sky and Jack Armstrong of Ahwatukee have been reborn twice.
Now the Missouri natives and Ahwatukee residents are in the third act of developing unique services and accessories for pets.
Until the market crashed in 2008, Jack owned several businesses in Pennsylvania and Florida, designing equipment and furniture for physically challenged people and seniors while Sky ran a business training women and children in self-defense.
Their world tumbled in 2008 when they âhit the perfect financial storm,â Jack said. âAnything that could go wrong did.â
But they picked themselves up and entered corporate life, enjoying a good salary. When 2018 began, the parents of three decided to start a third act together with their new business, QR World.
The Armstrongs left âthe secure corporate world of salaries and expense accountsâ for what Jack calls âthe uncertain and exciting future of entrepreneurs,â creating pet accessories and a new identification system for pets that uses QR codes.
âWe knew we wouldnât be happy working in the corporate world at this stage of our lives,â he explained. âWe donât plan on retiring because when you do something you love, itâs a joy, not work.
âWe saw the pet industry as a market that could use some fresh ideas. Since we both love animals it seemed like the perfect fit. And with our design, sales and marketing skills. we both felt we could make it.â
Their online business, qrpetstore.com, specializes in leather products for dogs and pushing the use of QR codes, which he calls an âinternational language.â
The Armstrongs believe the use of âQRâ in their companyâs name carries âthe dual meaning of the international acceptance and use of QR codes and the international language of love and kindness showed by animals to each other and to humans.
Â âOur mission is to develop, promote and distribute ideas, products and services that help animals live productive, healthy lives. This mission is primarily focused on all animals that are cared for by humans.â
Armstrong has a patent pending on his Shark Fin Collar, a big departure from the collars currently on the market, though the website also offers other styles of collars as well as leather leashes and treats âthat we feel are exceptional.â
âWhen we decided to get into this business, we saw no real innovation in collar design,â Mark said in explaining the origin of the Shark Fin Collar. âYou see the same styles and designs that were around for the last 40 years. And we saw the explosion of electronic devices for dogs. But what we did not see is a great looking collar that had electronics integrated into it.
âSo, we worked on that design, and that is how the Shark Fin was born. During the patent application, you are asked to describe the design, and the best description we could give was it was shaped like a shark fin. We sell the Shark Fin now because people think itâs cool and innovative. It sets their dog apart.â
What will set the collar further apart from any competition, he believes, is the GPS tracking system they hope to begin installing in the collars early next year.
Jack believes that even though his company is in its infancy, heâs got a good shot at making his mark â and securing a financial future.
âThe pet market is a $70-billion industry,â he said. âThere are many new start-ups. But it seems like there is still a lot of room for new ideas. And in the end, he who markets the best wins.â
He designs his products âby talking to those who will use them.â
âToo many engineers never leave the lab,â he added. âYou must go out and get real-world feedback to find out what people want now. Thatâs why we do pop-up stores. You get to talk to all kinds of people who are more than willing to tell you what they need and to critique your products.â
He envisions three divisions for the company â one built around the QR code, one with wearable electronics and a third âthat we find to be very fun â the collars and leashes we make.â
âWe can work with products like these into our 90s,â he quipped.
Though he said he and Sky have been lifelong pet lovers, they donât have any right now.
âAfter our last dog passed away and through the moves that we made, we decided to wait until we were permanently settled again and not traveling so much. So Iâm sure it wonât be long,â he said, adding, âWe have two âgrand dogsâ that we dog sit for.â
âItâs a big responsibility having pets, you have to be able to devote the time that they need,â he said. âThatâs why when we do move into a commercial space, employeesâ pets will be allowed at work.â
Though he admits that âbeing willing to leave the six figure corporate life â a sure thing â for the unknown challenge of a new business is the hardest thingâ about being an entrepreneur, Armstrong said heâs excited about his businessâ possibilities.
As he explains on his website, âWhat we are today will pale in comparison to where we are going and the animals and humans that we will reach with our groundbreaking ideas, inventions, products and services for the animals we care for.â