Travis Justin Sneed is the founder, owner, and operator of Silicon Valley Goldendoodles, a premier dog breeding company based out of San Jose, California.
Early in life, Travis displayed an aptitude for academia, graduating from high school at age 16 and earning his first college degree at age 19. As time passed, he would continue to excel in higher education, and then the professional world, eventually becoming a fully-licensed professional clinical forensic/neuropsychologist. Currently, he is certified in the practice of peer support and rational behavior therapy interventions. Travis Sneed also holds membership credentials with the American Psychological Association, the Association of Transpersonal Psychology, the California Psychological Association, and the Santa Clara County Psychological Association. Areas of his professional interest include the study of concussions, migraines, and neuroplasticity. Additionally, Travis enjoys the study of cardiovascular disease as it relates to anger and resentment in underserved populations. In his spare time, he is a volunteer for the San Francisco suicide prevention hotline.
In 2016, Travis Sneed began breeding and training a new type of hybrid dog, the Goldendoodle. He chose this breed because he found it to have a high degree of both empathy and intelligence, which piqued his interest as a neuropsychologist about the therapeutic relationship between dogs and humans. Upon finding great success with his dog breeding efforts, he opened a business based around it, wanting to share his love of Goldendoodles with the public. Beyond that, he wanted to find a way to utilize his dogs for more than just emotional companionship. Travis partnered with local law enforcement to start a program wherein some of his dogs would become liaisons in schools, parks, and programs working with children, people who suffer from mental health issues, and the homeless. Travis Justin Sneed has since expanded Silicon Valley Goldendoodles to include training and other dog-related services available on-site. He has also added a brick-and-mortar boarding house and dog day-care, as well as a 24-hour hot-line for families needing support, and two mobile grooming vans.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
When I started the company, there was nobody breeding Goldendoodles in Silicon Valley. The only access anyone had to the breed was with out-of-state dog operations. I sensed that there was a lot of untapped demand here and set up shop with a couple of Goldendoodle puppies. As of right now, my company is the only Goldendoodle breeder in the area. So far, I’ve found nothing but success. I will temper that, however, by saying that it’s a very expensive process to breed dogs here, due largely to the many state and municipal regulations and accompanying expenses.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I usually get up at 5:30 am, then feed and spend time with the dogs. After that, my driver takes me to the station where I hop on a train to the city. I take the time to read while heading to and from work. Once at my office, I see anywhere from four to six patients. I head back home around 4 pm, and then spend some more time with the dogs, answer some emails, and take notes from everything I read while on the train. I always cook a meal at the end of the day.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I always keep a notepad with me. If a thought passes through my brain twice, I write it down. I make many lists of what I should be doing, or want to do in the future. On a weekly basis, I reconcile these lists and if I see some items consistently recur on them, I take the time to explore them in-depth and expand on those topics. I usually share my brainstorming with my friends and employees. It’s a part of my process to determine if an idea is sound. If I conclude that it is sound, then I take the steps necessary to undertake it and make it into a reality.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The trend that excites me the most is people understanding the positive impact that a dog can have on a family. It doesn’t matter who you are or what stage you’re at in life. It doesn’t matter if your family is big or small, old or young—everyone can benefit from owning a dog. And the more people that are involved in dog ownership, the more people are going to be invested in the quality of all things related to having a dog, from products meant for dogs to how dogs are cared for. That is very exciting to me, both as a canine enthusiast and a businessman.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
The habit that I can attribute most to my success is always being the first to work in the morning and the last to leave at night. When I became a business owner, I added another line to that maxim: Always be the last to pay yourself. That is, if you want to keep your business healthy.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t fear failure and pursue things that you like for a career. Spend more time exploring what you can offer the world and what can bring you daily purpose and meaning. I wish I had learned those things earlier in life.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
People who practice mindfulness and cultivate the skill to forgive are less likely to have vascular health problems, specifically vascular dementia, strokes, and aneurysms. By adopting these techniques, many positive chemical changes occur in the brain. By contrast, when you are angry and fail to forgive, anxiety wreaks havoc on your body both hormonally and physically. Ultimately, this can damage your brain. There is a good deal of science underscoring why happy people remain cognitive longer and live longer than angry people who do not forgive easily.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I make sure to stay connected to my customers and to my employees. I talk to them and listen to their experiences. Don’t wait for customers or employees to call you; take the initiative to call them first. I feel this is invaluable.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
The strategy that comes to mind is investing in my employees. I spend a tremendous amount of time, energy, and money training my employees. If employees are highly trained, they perform more efficiently in all areas of their job. It also shows the employee that they are valued, connected, and that they are an important part of the team. I try to make sure my staff understands how much I value them every day.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I think we all have challenges. For me, when faced with any challenge, it’s important to analyze how and why it happened when the dust finally settles. In the past, when I’ve had grooming challenges, I took the time to explore exactly what happened and get some advice about the situation to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
The realm of neurological feedback is an untapped area. I think it would be a great idea for a startup or an existing business to create some sort of application to measure such feedback, as well as addressing it in some form. I think creating an app like that would be an important step in removing the stigma attached to certain mental health issues. It would also give individuals the opportunity to engage and improve in this area.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I spent $100 on a four day juice cleanse which featured several healthy juices, soups, and protein bars. I felt really good after completing it.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
With Microsoft Teams, you have a cloud-based phone, email, conferencing capability, and remote access to files. Using this application, I can access almost anything wherever I am. This is valuable to me because I don’t have to ask anyone to stop what they’re doing to assist me because I wasn’t prepared—I have access to everything I need at any time.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Science of Social Intelligence by Patrick King. This is a great read for anyone who is a clinician, business person, or even just someone who wants to be a good neighbor or partner. There are some really specific, helpful life strategies contained within it.
What is your favorite quote?
I guess the one that I reflect on most often is by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He once said, “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” You have to be persistent to get things done, no matter who you are.
- Practicing mindfulness and forgiveness will not only bring clarity and increase emotional intelligence, it can aid in cognition and prolong life, as well.
- When business owners invest in their employees, it pays great dividends for everyone concerned, including the business itself.
- Persistence is key in order to accomplish anything meaningful.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.