Getting a great pup selfie frustrates every dog owner I know.
A good dog selfie is Instagram gold, but dogs are worse than babies at keeping their eyes open and focused on the camera. You can always sucker punch babies with a milky breast, but dogs are way harder to control.
This problem had been seriously bugging San Diego resident Jason Hernandez. All he wanted to do was get a good doggy selfie with his new pitbull rescues, Sadie and Logan. But they wouldn’t cooperate. There was only so much doggy-drama he could put up with.
And then Jason, 36, grabbed a squeaky dog ball to throw. Instantly, Sadie and Logan perked up. Jason noticed how they tracked the ball in his hands — and how they stayed strangely still, for once.
Jason’s mind started whirring.
Could this be the solution to his very real problem?
A quick Google search later and Jason realized he might be onto a winner. Strange as it sounds, the internet was completely devoid of products to help you get the perfect pooch selfie.
The only thing I could find was the PetBot, a treat-dispensing doggy “big brother” that takes snaps every time a treat is taken. And there’s the Dog on a Stick selfie stick, a Petco April Fool’s. So basically, a barren landscape waiting to be conquered by slobbering smiles.
Jason’s an engineer by trade, and knew a couple of things about product development. He started creating some mockup tennis ball dog-selfie-phone-case hybrids. He figured connecting the ball to a phone would be THE best way to get selfies with your pet.
However, Jason’s first few designs didn’t go so well. He made a phone case that was half tennis ball, but the dogs wanted to chew it. Then there was the “dummy” ball attachment. This got his pups attention, but then soon got frustrated as they couldn’t play with the ball once they’d modeled for photos. Divas…
“You have to reward them,” Jason told me. “The ball’s a training tool; if they give you the reaction you’re looking for you can then throw the ball to them.”
Once Jason had figured the ball had to be real, he started designing a way to attach it to your phone. He reckoned that over time the balls would deteriorate, but they could be replaced with any ball; it was the attachment piece that would have longevity.
And this planning and designing took Jason over a year.
It became an obsession for him. He invested around $5,000 creating a prototype.
But in January he realized if he wanted to actually produce it, he’d need to invest more; it was becoming more than a side project. He asked his wife,
“Is this a good enough idea?”
He didn’t want to waste time on something that was stupid. “We either put funds towards it, or we walk away,” he said. She gave him the thumbs up and they were set.
Jason posted his project on Kickstarter, calling it “Pooch Selfie.” He wanted $7,000, enough to cover his costs and so he could produce some in time for Christmas.
He’s currently raised $39,897. All the early bird $7 and $10 orders are sold out. You can still grab this for $13 if you’re quick.
Jason sounds puzzled when he talks about how much he’s raised. He didn’t expect this to get so big. “It’s very uplifting,” he said. “I believed in this product for a year and it’s cool to see people so excited.”
Profits aren’t a focus right now, but he said that thanks to the funds raised he will “make some.” And he plans to put some of the money raised towards helping dogs in need by sending cash to animal shelters.
His current goal is to fulfill all the orders he has for Christmas 2015, and start looking at scaling up for next year. He said that he’s had interest from boutiques, and that people have been asking him about mass orders and wholesale prices. He finds this incredible — remember, he hasn’t shipped a single Pooch Selfie order yet.
He tells me that he’s been getting lots of advice request through Kickstarter, other wannabe entrepreneurs asking his secret. But he doesn’t have one. He has no marketing background, and he spent no money on promotion. His video was shot and edited by a friend. His wife, children and dogs are his models.
“I just put all my passion in it,” he said.
And by combining “selfie” with “dog” he’s stumbled onto something there’s a high demand for.