When you talk to the CEO of PetMeds Matt Hulett, you quickly realize that he thrives on simplicity. "My job is to get money and not run out of money," he says with a smile, a straightforward philosophy that underscores his leadership style. But beneath this deceptively simple mantra lies a deep understanding of the interplay between people, products, infrastructure, and capital allocation.
Hulett recognizes that at the heart of every successful company is its people, and he has dedicated a substantial portion of his career to mastering the art and science of hiring — attitude, aptitude, tangibles, and scale appropriateness are the core vectors he looks for in potential team members.
Hulett acknowledges that one of the most challenging aspects of talent management is finding the right person at the right time. Whether a small company or a big corporation, the fit between the individual and the organization can be a delicate balance. "Hire the right person at the right time," he advises, recognizing that this often requires a deep understanding of the company's current and future needs.
He emphasizes the importance of diversity, not just in demographics but also in the diversity of thought. It's a careful cocktail that he assembles, blending intuition with a structured framework. This structured approach is documented in his book Unlock: Five Questions to Unleash Your Company's Hidden Power, and offers a systematic framework for evaluating a company's growth potential.
The five questions, encapsulated in the acronym T3PM (Total Addressable Market, Timing, Track Record, Plan, and Momentum), offer an insightful lens through which companies can assess their potential for growth and transformation.
As the conversation turns to the ever-present remote work debate, Hulett offers a nuanced perspective. While many advocate for a full return to the office, Hulett sees the advantages of embracing remote work, albeit with careful consideration. He believes that companies that can master remote work now will have a significant advantage in talent acquisition in the future. Still, he cautions that effective remote work requires heightened communication and intentional in-person “ceremonies” to maintain a strong company culture.
Hulett predicts that many tasks currently performed by middle managers will become automated over time. Still, he advises those in these roles to become the best at what they do — to become elite in their field — as AI can't replace human intuition and emotional intelligence.
Hulett's perspective on AI extends beyond the interview, reflecting the ethos of PetMeds. The company leverages AI in its e-commerce stack for data attribution, modeling, and creative tasks. The goal is to maintain a lean workforce while maximizing the benefits of technology.
When asked about the broader economic implications of AI, Hulett notes that while automation makes company formation more accessible, the advantage still leans toward large corporations with the financial resources to invest in AI infrastructure. This could lead to increased entrepreneurship, but small startups may find it challenging to compete with the technological firepower of industry giants.
With his structured approach to turnarounds and a passion for innovation, Matt Hulett's successfully led both public and private companies. His leadership philosophy, grounded in discipline and adaptability, positions him as an invaluable figure in a rapidly changing industry — transforming not only PetMeds but also the way we think about entrepreneurship.