Welcome to Kozmo's Corner!
"Ever wonder how ordinary folks come up with extraordinary ideas? Here you'll find insightful interviews and reviews about cutting edge pet products and interesting pet websites."
From time-to-time Kozmo will also discuss the latest happenings in the pet world.
When and how did this idea of an outdoor toilet to dispose of dog waste come to you?
Truthfully, the idea was born on a sweltering summer day in Florida in our tiny, fenced back yard where our two large-breed and prolific-pooping dogs did their elimination business. Vicki Januszewski, co-founder of Greendog LLC, went outside armed with scooper and plastic bags to collect the poop. The heat, pungent odor and disgusting piles pushed Vicki to the limit. She came in and said to me (Curt Fournier, the other co-founder of Greendog), “Curt, why can’t you make me something that I can use to simply flush the dog poop into the sewer system”?
We immediately began seriously researching the topic and found that there were few answers to managing dog waste safely, easily, and cleanly. Along the way, we discovered that pet waste was no laughing matter and that many, many municipalities were hunting for environmentally acceptable and budget-friendly ways to keep their cities clean and sanitary. And reading blogs, it was clear that dog owners were screaming for a simple way to minimize handling dog poop, which is the number one thing they dislike about owning a dog.
How long did it take to bring your idea to market?
It took about three years to take the idea from concept to a skillfully engineered and simple-to-use product ready for the marketplace. I would have to say that in the first year, most of our time was dedicated to research and identifying key demographics and market size.
The PowerLoo is a truly revolutionary, one-of-a-kind product and there were many challenges to manage in getting it designed and produced. Introducing a new product is a bit like taking the risk of being the first guy on the dance floor. If timing is right than everybody wants to join in the party and share the fun. You’re a success. But, if you didn’t prepare and lose the beat, you can end up dancing alone while everybody watches and criticizes. New concepts involving unproven technology also give the inventor “first-mover advantage”, meaning the market is wide open to the product without like competition and this is a great advantage. It pays to get it right from the outset, which takes time and money or your project will likely never get off the ground. Greendog is committed to making the best product we can, using quality materials and having a positive impact on the environment.
There are several stages involved in bringing a product to market:
• Conceive the idea then research it to death
• Search out Intellectual Property (IP) rights to protect your idea and keep from infringing on someone else’s design
• Develop a comprehensive business plan
• Raise seed money and working capital to advance your company
• Refine your product design
• Put time and money into engineering
• Locate, interview and use manufacturing partners
• Build the prototype
• Do continuous research
• Periodically review and update your business plan
• Adjust and improve the prototype as needed
• Commit to manufacturing tools and dies
• Locate and contract with suppliers of all goods you need
• Evaluate your product in a Beta test market before going to sales
• Never stop researching the market
• Establish a detailed company structure
• Interview and hire key employees
• Initiate a strong and savvy advertising plan
• Launch the product at the right time
• Continue to raise money to advance your product and grow the company
Bringing the PowerLoo to market has been interesting, educational and not without stress. But overall, it’s been a very fun journey.
What makes your product unique?
The POWERLOO™ is in a class of its own. Our tag line, “JUST PICK IT UP and FLUSH IT DOWN” says it all. In just two easy steps, this high-performance disposal system removes dog waste from your property in less then 10 seconds. With the PowerLoo there is no longer any need to trash and stash waste. According to the EPA and CDC, flushing dog waste into the sewer system where it will be properly treated is the absolute best, safest and most sanitary method of disposing of dog waste.
Customers who are now using the PowerLoo are astonished at how easy and efficient it is to operate. They tell us again and again that there is finally a good solution to dealing with the disgusting chore of getting rid of dog poop. And, the sleek, attractive construction complements the customer’s landscape design.
Are you planning any enhancements/improvements to the product?
At GreenDog, we’re always working on design improvements and future models of the PowerLoo. And, in response to customer needs and inquiries, we will be marketing other creative pet products.
What is your professional background? Did that line of work or education help you in developing this product?
I’ve had a strong entrepreneurial frame of mind since I was a kid. In fact, my first business was a small novelty shop that I opened while still in high school. Since that first experience as a business owner, I have operated enterprises ranging from coffee shops to real estate. Before establishing GreenDog LLC I had a successful finance and consulting business. The experience and knowledge I gained from operating those businesses and other ventures greatly contributed to the success of launching Greendog and producing the PowerLoo. I would say that one of my strengths is thinking outside the box. This has helped me look at things from a fresh and original perspective and bring new and interesting ideas to the market. There are two things that I feel are key to bringing success to whatever you do: 1) Pay attention to and learn from the “hard knocks”. Although criticism and hurdles can be tough, they also teach invaluable lessons. Don’t be afraid of them. 2) Raising capital helps you understand the principles behind business and success in a way you cannot grasp through textbooks and classrooms alone. Get involved in raising capital from the start and you will learn about people, companies, risks, the marketplace and yourself.
Throughout the entire inventive/manufacturing process what was the hardest obstacle you faced? And how did you overcome it?
Our product has broken through many barriers during the development process. The hardest obstacle I faced was coordinating the design and production of all our parts and bringing them together efficiently and seamlessly. As an example, I had to oversee nine different injection-molded pieces, a three-way linkage assembly, and a custom compounded substrate with a custom powder-coated finish. It was definitely a challenge to manage these parts as a small change in one item affected how all the parts worked together. It took constant vigilance and hands-on work to ensure that the finished product was built and assembled to our exacting specifications.
What type of pets do you own?
My wife and I currently have 28 paws in the family! We have four dogs and three cats, all rescues. Our oldest boy is a white boxer mix named Benjamin. Benny has been with us for over 7 years. Next is Denver, our husky/lab mix. We actually found Denver’s mom roaming an expressway eight years ago and when we couldn’t locate her owner we decided to make her part of our home. We quickly discovered she was pregnant and after delivery, we placed all of her pups in good homes, including Denver, who was a spunky pup. Denver’s family could no longer spend the time with him that he needed, so after nine years, we warmly welcomed him home.
The oldest diva of the house is our scraggly little Stormy who is the smallest of all, but runs the place and everybody in it! Stormy’s favorite punching bag is Toby, our 30 pound, giant Maine Coon Kitty. He joined us when his owners gave him up because of uncontrollable peeing caused by a bladder infection. A trip to the vet and a tiny procedure fixed him and he is now the best cat someone could ask for. The newest addition to the cat pack is Kevin. My wife, Vicki, noticed Kevin when she was retrieving Benny and Denver from the Slammer where they spent a night after Benny (AKA Houdini) staged a daring escape from the house by actually unlocking the deadbolt with his own two paws! Kevin was recovering from an illness and his owners did not want to take him back. He’s a sweet boy and fits right in. Last, but certainly not least, are the two new kids, Henry and Nina, retriever, mastiff, and who-knows-what mixes. These two were found at a pet store adoption day where they were hoping for a family. Well, their dreams came true and so did ours, as these twelve-week old littermates joined the others. They provide us with endless hours of fun and laughter.
Is there anything else you'd like readers to know about you or your product?
Vicki and I have a strong passion for pets and their welfare. We advocate for them and to stop cruel practices and abandonment by owners. This is one reason we are so enthusiastic about GreenDog and the PowerLoo. As our company grows to success we will continue to support animal causes and help educate people and children on responsible pet ownership. It is part of our mission to be good stewards of the earth and all her creatures. In the meantime, I think I may have to lock my wife up at home to keep her away from the pet rescues, and hope Benny doesn’t let her out.