Melissa Allen, a resident of Eaton Rapids, Michigan, received one of the best emails that she has ever gotten about three months ago. Her father’s invention, the Poochie Bowl, was going to be featured in a “Have Pet, Will Travel” product article in Woman’s Day Magazine. The best part? She didn’t even submit the product, the magazine found her!
3 years ago Joe Rabideau, Allen’s father, was just trying to create a product to help his beloved long-eared pooch. That good deed turned into a small, but quickly growing, business. In the short time it has been on the market, the Poochie Bowl is now sold in 13 different states by over 35 retailers.
Allen, who is president of the company, says that they sell an average of about 100 bowls a month, but they would like to greatly increase that number. Although it was originally designed to help dogs with long ears, the device can store food and water in the same bowl, making it an excellent product to have while traveling with a dog. Once they began marketing it that way, business took off.
The inspiration for the product came from Rabideau’s Basset Hound, Scooter, who had exceptionally long ears. They were constantly getting wet in his water dish and dirty in his food bowl. It was frustrating, so the pair decided to do something about it.
Rabideau jotted some ideas down on paper and entered a local competition that helped entrepreneurs take their ideas from sketches to production. Rabideau’s prototype won him $1,000 that had to be used as seed money to start his business.
Once the entrepreneurs realized that they were losing out on a lot of business by marketing their product to dog owners whose pets had long ears, they looked into marketing it for travel, and the bowl became a fast success.
Most recently Allen was approached by Provenance Hotels. Their pet-friendly amenities include rooms equipped with dog products, and they want to use the Poochie Bowl as part of their furnishings for these rooms. The pair never dreamed the business would take off like this.
Consumers can get the Poochie Bowl in six different colors, and they can also be customized for an added price. Allen says the Michigan State University bowl is extremely popular. Customers can also personalize the bowls with their pet’s name. One man even sent in a picture that he took in Germany and had that printed on a bowl.