I remember a book from the 1st gen boom-boom Internet days called "Clicks and Mortar" by the then CEO of Schwab. Never actually read it, but loved the title :)
In the spirit of some kind of periodic update on our dog bowl, I thought I'd make a brief post. I've taken some ribbing from a few good friends along the lines of "A dog bowl? Are you nuts? How much time are spending on this? Why?"
2) Depends on the definition.
3) Less than you'd think; more than I had hoped. But I'm loving every minute of it and smiling from ear to ear.
4) Because this is an almost perfect storm of learning opportunity with enterprise value creation upside.
So let me back up. Why, exactly, did we choose to launch a dog bowl as our first venture out of the gate with launching new products? The answer, I think, is multi-textured, but relatively straight-forward. When you're doing an iterative experiment, rule number 1 is to learn as quickly and cheaply as you can. Said alternately, we think we've got a bunch of products in our portfolio today, and down the road, that we'll want to take to market. How can we most cost-effectively learn what works and what doesn't? How can we keep our failure cost low, and maintain upside potential as we build the market incubation plane while it's flying?
So, with that said, let's actually look at the dog bowl opportunity:
First off, it's a big-ass category. There are somewhere around 50-60 million households in the US with dogs. Average # of dogs per dog-owning household is 1.7. You can do the math; that's a lot of dog bowls that get bought every year. So, check the box for "target the size of a barn door." Next, the product is frickin' killer. It works. We've got supporting/positive data from clinical trials, from consumers, from reviewers, from vets, etc. Third, the product is relatively simple to make and explain -- your dog eats too fast; that's not good; this bowl slows your dog down. Finally, and arguably most important, the audience is PASSIONATE. And it's online. So we can do things with this product that are tough to do with some other products that can't be sold online and can't generate online buzz.
After about a month, I've got to say that I'm pretty pleased with where we're at with our little dog bowl, and what we've all learned along the way. In roughly a month, we've got OVER 25 bloggers talking about this bowl. That gets us the title of "#1 Most Highly Praised Dog Bowl in the Internet" in just a month. The bowl works, it's cute, it does what we say, folks love it, they recommend it, and so on. Big, big positive buzz on it. We've got some offline press writing about it (Colorado Dog, Rocky Mountain News, etc.), and more stories are coming. And we've got some sales momentum building at the independent pet store level. This is a great, proprietary product that is generating online conversation rates well above the norm.
I can't reveal all our tricks in a blog post (that would be silly now, wouldn't it?). While I don't yet know how big this business will be, I can say that I think it's got good potential. And things we're learning here are going to be re-applied to other products in our portfolio that we deem appropriate for market launch/incubation.
The fun is just beginning!
www.dogpausebowl.com check it out if you haven't yet!