We interviewed owner, Mikey Lickstein, who faced the Sharks with his dog, Bentley. As for his canine company’s growth, he explained that on April 1, he expanded their tag line from four to 15 styles. Customer feedback was a driving force behind that. “When we first launched, we only had four styles, with one side of engraving. We asked our customers what they wanted, and they answered,” he said. “More styles, more colors, and more room for customization…We even made them glow-in-the-dark – great for nighttime walks.”
Lickstein takes pride in selling to small businesses, and explained that they are now in over 200 mom-and-pop pet stores across the country. They are also available on Etsy, which he said gives them a personal connection to their customers.
Here’s what else he told us about…
How the Idea Came About
While in college, I helped foster dogs with local animal organizations. After helping four pups find homes, my friend called me to tell me he saved a dog that had been thrown from a car and asked me to help find him a home. After a few days, it was clear he wasn’t going anywhere. Unfortunately, he was beaten and abused. His constant scratching throughout the night made his pet tags jingle and the color and engraving kept fading. After going through four pet tags – from this free dog – I set out to create the new standard in pet tags.
Experience With Kickstarter- ‘Difficult to Market a Cute Product’
Kickstarter allowed us to fully understand our customer market segment. While Kickstarter boasts a large male audience appeal, SiliDog customers are mainly women. While we did achieve our goal for pledges, it was extremely difficult to market a cute product to the Kickstarter community.
Appearance on ‘Shark Tank’
After watching the show on a random afternoon, I wondered to myself, “How do people get on?” I did a quick Google search and saw that Shark Tank was holding a casting call in Miami. I didn’t tell anyone besides my brother, who lives down on South Beach, that I was that I was going. I slept over his place and he dropped me off before work the next day. After a couple of rounds of with the producers, I finally received the phone call that I was going to present to the Sharks! This was at 9 at night as I made tags in our warehouse till 1:30 am. I made a pit stop at CVS before I got home, in order to wake my parents up with a Champagne shower to tell them the news! I think I took a few years off their lives!
Giving Back With a Charitable Component
Giving back has always been important to me. Back in high school, I started my own non-profit organization for special needs adults in the community. I personally have two special needs family members who I love and have grown up with. With so many programs for children and young adults, there was an opportunity for me to give back to the community. We raised over $15,000 through charitable donations and were able to put on events ranging from Florida Panthers hockey games to trips to Miami Seaquarium for over 50 special needs adults in the tri-county area of South Florida. This purpose has carried over with SiliDog. We have donated to over 50 charitable organizations with pet initiatives in mind and plan on launching SiliDog’s own nonprofit in the near future.
Nerves in the ‘Tank’
I was on autopilot for the pitch and no one can ever be one-hundred percent prepared for the questions, but I survived without fainting, which was a miracle. I wasn’t so scared of the Sharks because I’ve been watching them for years and it’s exactly what you see on TV, but more of the realization that millions of people would be watching me on prime time television scared me to death.
Other Shark Tank products for your dog: