The Austin-based business has ambitious plans, which include launching in Petco and PetSmart. They also are set to introduce 10 plus products in the next 90 days and create a mall-in-store kiosk display to allow pet owners to customize products on the spot.
We interviewed CEO Steven Blustein about his canine company. Here’s what he told us about…
How the Idea For the Company Came About
We were a group of dog-loving college students that wanted to create better quality pet products with more options to choose from. We all had dogs and just weren’t satisfied with what was on the market. While watching the emergence of sites like NikeID, we believed that we could build the same unique experience for pet parents everywhere and allow them to make products as unique as their pups.
How the Team Formed
The team formed in a unique way. Sean Knecht (CMO) and I have been best friends since the 6th grade. Sam Lampe (COO) and I have been lifetime family friends and Sean and Sam actually went to high school together. During college at the University of Kansas, Sam and I met Ting Liu who was a foreign exchange student at KU. I actually met Ting randomly while working out at the gym. Since launching, we’ve added seven more employees to the company.
Their 1st Product- Designed With a USC Logo
The first product we created was our PrideBite Dog Toy, designed after the University of Southern California Trojan logo. After receiving the license from USC to sell these toys, we bought 500 of them and stuffed them wherever we could find space- in our cars, stacked to the ceiling in our apartments, and jammed into random storage units. We’d fill large duffel bags with the toys and drive down to the USC Football tailgate where we’d walk around selling them to tailgaters for $20 cash. We actually sold out in five games and had people running up to us saying, ‘Y’all are the dog toy guys, can I buy five more? These are awesome!’
Their Appearance on the ‘Tank”
Our Shark Tank appearance came about after we applied to the show for the second time. Our first time applying, the producers liked our business model and us, but our application video wasn’t very good. They told us to re-apply with a better video showing more personality and we’d have a better chance. We did so, and after crossing our fingers for two months we got the call.
Nerves Once in the ‘Tank’
We were a little nervous in the Tank, but after we hit our mark on the carpet and were told to pause for 30 to 45 seconds, we took a deep breath and were ready for the most important investor pitch of our lives. Sean and I practiced for roughly four hours every day leading up to the taping. We watched every episode, wrote down every question every Shark had ever asked and practiced answering them. Whatever nerves we had were quelled by our preparation.
More Shark Tank companies for your dog: