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If you invented a retail product for cats/dogs- how would you bring that product to market?

I've invented a retail product that any household with a cat/dog should love. But given my domain expertise is more as a technologist, my question are rudimentary. What is the best approach for quickly ramping up sales? Do I need a working prototype then approach pet retail chains? Do i use informercials? Its my goal to have this product ready for this Holiday Season.

23 Replies

Martyn Hughes
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Martyn Hughes Entrepreneur
Owner, Staggan Interactive Ltd the developer of United Football a free to play, casual MMO Soccer game.
We are heavily into the dog world, owning several breeds and regularly showing and working all of them.

I would suggest working prototype(s) followed by testimonial video showing the product being used by owners.

I'd also make sure there is a patent application if that is possible as the pet market is huge... I think over $20b in Europe alone....

Chris Gorges
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Chris Gorges Entrepreneur • Advisor
Partner, Strategy at Rocketure
Kickstarter or Indiegogo might not be a bad idea -- then buy Google / Facebook ads targeting pet owners / lovers.
Jesse Pliner
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Jesse Pliner Entrepreneur • Advisor
CEO @ Prong
If I were to break your initial product dev down into stages:

Idea/Rendering: I would show this to retail buyers to get initial feedback and start the conversation. I would show it to end users and get their feedback and if positive try to start collecting email addresses of people who say they like the idea

Functioning Prototype: Depending on how this looked, I would either show it to the retail buyer in pictures or send him one to play with to get further feedback. I would also show him some packaging to get his feedback on that. If this prototype looked good, this can be used to launch a pre-order campaign. If you can make a few of these prototypes to can seed them out to reviewers/influencers and get some PR around your Pre-order campaign

Based on the feedback I get from the above would determine my next steps. I wouldn't be too concerned about showing end users your idea as most people aren't walking around looking for ideas to steal. As far as retail buyers or reps, generally, you can probably get an NDA in place with them but they might not sign it so early. I probably wouldn't let that deter me from getting the concepts in front of them.
Paul Bostwick
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Paul Bostwick Entrepreneur
Researcher and Self-Employed Product Designer
Check out one Simple Idea by Stephen Key Quick read. He knows the turf. Lots of stuff to cover in your question but the short of it is Licensing is the way to go... unless you really, really want to run an animal gear company The people who have already built such companies are very interested in getting more products to pump through their pipes Prototypes have the job of answering a question - and knowing what question you are answering guides the kind of Prototype to pursue: Including a NO prototype option. Im happy to talk it out to get you aimed. Get the to a bookseller. -Paul [removed to protect privacy]
Kenneth Friedman
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Kenneth Friedman Entrepreneur
Sales & Business Development Executive: CSO/EVP/SVP ★ “Corporate Invigorator” ★ Expertise Selling into 20+ Industries

The Pet Vertical is one of the fastest growing sectors at retail, E-tail and catalogue. There are approx. 25 plus key North America Pet retailers, franchises and even more e-tailers. There are also a good number of Distributors who take product into retailers from small to large. There are also a number of Pet Trade Shows to attend and exhibit and areas there to feature new product showcasing. Start with either targeting these retailers and going direct or hire Master Rep/Distributor Groups to get feedback on the product viability and interest. Before that happens, ensure the price points are workableand make recommendations as to where in the store the product should be placed. Do your homework as buyers and category managers are inundated with so called latest and greatest products and new vendors.

Curt Schulz
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Curt Schulz Advisor
Design and Media Consultant
Yes, read One Simple Idea... and get a PPA before talking with anyone other than close friends and family. They are cheap to file online and give you a year to try out your idea.
Sreten John Gajic
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Sreten John Gajic Entrepreneur
Global Business Leader - Marketing, Innovation & Venture Capital
Mark, Good questions...My Mind2Market process could help you...You can get a general idea of the type of services I provide at www.VersusInnovation.com At the core of my approach is iterative development...(pls. see the chart after services). The first fundamental question is *should* you build it, rather than *how*... (route to market etc.) Great that you believe you have a winner, yet there are inexpensive ways of getting input from your target market (and you need to know who your *target* is) to confirm that, as well as optimize the value proposition, so that you put your best foot forward. All this is not longer than a 60-90 day process to get to answer your critical assumptions and start to build an MVP, you can then share with the trade. You will need about $10-15K (if done on the cheap). Hope that helps, Sreten [image: --] Sreten John Gajic [image: https://]about.me/sreten
Mark Sendo
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Mark Sendo Entrepreneur • Advisor
Founder, CEO, Forbes Contributor, Conference Speaker, TechCrunch featured story twice
Excellent feedback, assuming the IP is filed, product is protected and embraced, the price points given overseas manufacturing makes sense, and there are strong retail margins, go direct to the retails/etailers?
Sreten John Gajic
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Sreten John Gajic Entrepreneur
Global Business Leader - Marketing, Innovation & Venture Capital
Well, you are ignoring the consumer...which only makes sense if you have a disruptive idea...otherwise my belief is that you need to ask consumers before you do anything else...and there are ways of doing it without giving away the whole idea (and most people are not entrepreneurs like you, ready to pounce on a good idea anyway..:)
Dominick Pagnozzi
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Senior Sales, Market Development and General Management executive, experienced e-commerce and retail channel development
Mark Sounds like it may be way too late for large retailers for this Holiday. Many of those guys already made their decisions on established ready for market products. For that channel you will need at least a working prototype, well thought out packaging concept that is consistent w shelf space allowed. You will also need to have your manufacturing figured out , your costs , the expected margins in your category, logistics, etc etc. Since you are a new supplier you may also need to prove that you can deliver timely and consistently and that you have some expertise in this channel and all those aspects of your business. You might want to manufacture a limited amount, make sure they work as designed, and then do a crowdfunding campaign. I understand that these campaign results are good barometers on how a product would be received in the broader market. Have a website for direct sales, get some PR and some social media going and springboard form there. There is a lot involved in creating a successful retail product no matter how good the concept is. I have participated in numerous of these types of new retail product efforts; In my opinion, Peter Thiel has a great book on the subject called *Zero to One: notes on startups, or how to build the future .* Good Luck Dominick Pagnozzi Pagnozzi Ventures, LLC [removed to protect privacy] www.linkedin.com/in/DPagnozzi skype:Dpagnozzi www.PagnozziVentures.Com
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