78.2 Million Dogs in the USA and Growing… What’s the scoop with the poop?

Since getting into the dog waste business I am continually amazed at the number of stories and issues that are raised by people disagreeing around the subject of dog waste disposal.  It often becomes a very heated subject and also a very comical one; at least for those not involved in the dispute (the scene with Jim Carey comes to mind from the movie The Mask…).  So why is this such a controversial subject?
Many dog households understand the importance and necessity to manage their pets waste in a responsible way, but others ask ‘what’s the big deal’.  Well the big deal is that there are an estimated 78.2 million domestic dogs here in the US (1) and historically this number is increasing annually (and correlates closely to the number of households in the US).  78.2 million dogs is a lot of dogs!  To help put this in perspective the estimated resident population of the UK (United Kingdom) was 61.8 million people in mid-2009. For me, visualizing the population of the UK and correlating that with the number of dogs in the US really brings home the fact that if a significant percentage of our dog owning population do not follow recommended dog waste management etiquette it is be a very big deal and we will all be in quite a mess, literally!
Most of us will agree that public parks, walk ways and trails are not public bathrooms for dogs, or people. There are just too many of us, dogs and people, sharing an ever decreasing amount of land to act carelessly and without regard for our neighbor’s mutual enjoyment of our public spaces.  Many years ago the public health challenges caused by the improper treatment and disposal of human waste became apparent and as a result in developed countries we now have extensive sewage systems and all new housing developments include sewage facilities.  I have no doubt that the evolution of pet waste management can be likened to the evolution of our own waste management and litter management,  in that as the need grows the solutions will follow and in the future communities will be designed to include the management of and disposal of pet waste.  However in the meantime, despite the differing policies of different cities ‘all’ dog owners need to take personal responsibility for their dogs in this area.
Dogs like people can be potty trained.  Also dogs, like people, cannot always hold it in until they get home and thus public toilets/facilities for dogs do need to be provided.  To this end there are a growing number of dog parks, or areas designated within a park especially for dogs and these areas contain facilities to handle dog waste.  Many parks that do not have designated dog areas do provide public waste bins and waste bags for dog owners who may occasionally get caught in need; but this is not a cart blanche pass to use the public space as their dogs regular toilet spot, or to take the ‘free’ bags from the dispenser by the handful to use elsewhere.   Manufacturers have designed numerous tools to help with pet waste management both in and around the home, in the yard as well as when taking dogs out on walks and hikes.
  With 78.2 million dogs and more on the way, if we want to continue to enjoy the company of our dogs out and about in public places we need to ‘all’ recognize our responsibility to be part of the solutions for achieving excellent waste management.   (1) The APPA (American Pet Products Assoc.) has been tracking statistics on the pet industry, including the number of pets per household since 1988.  In 2002 the US had approximately 109.3 households of which 36.59% were dog owners.  These 40 million households had a total of 68 million dogs, giving an average of 1.7 dogs per households with dog.  In 2011 we have an estimated 117.6 million households in the US of which 39.37% are households with dogs totaling an estimated 78.2 million dog’s  

The Idea...

The design for PoopPac came about whilst I was watching a large number of people exercising their dogs on a beach one morning. I was struck by just how many people were holding their ‘used bag’ in one hand, and their coffee in the other – yuk! The more I paid attention the more I noticed all sorts of shenanigans with bags of poop; people standing around chatting, drinking their morning coffee and most with a bag of poop in their hand (and not always the other hand). I noticed abandoned packages, hidden packages, all sorts of things with these packages; it actually became quite amusing. However one thought kept coming to mind ‘you'd think there'd be something to put it in’. Well there wasn't (this was back in the summer of 2008), hence the idea was born.


During our life most of us have good ideas for an invention and some have great ideas, but bringing an idea through to fruition can be quite a daunting task. Having an idea is one thing, having an idea, with the possible tools to hand to bring the idea to fruition, can be quite another matter. In this area I have been incredibly lucky; I found the tools close to home and thus I my idea was viable and had the possibility of coming to life.


My concept for PoopPac was to design a case that was durable and light weight, but most importantly a case that had a rigid frame so that you could pop your package in it and be worry free of smell and accidents and of the ‘package’ touching other items… I had sketched out my idea (no I can not draw and you would laugh if you saw my original sketches...) but I had a starting point; I had the basic features my concept required. Next task was finding a CAD designer to put my basic sketch into some design software so that we could work on the design.


By chance, many years earlier, I had visited a company in Santa Barbara that specialized in making high quality, durable cases; primarily for the medical industry and government/military. The materials used by this company and their technique in forming would lend themselves very well to my concept. Were they still in business? Would they take me on as a client? As good fortune would have it the company where still in full swing and they agreed to work with me with finalizing my design and prototyping.


So my first word of encouragement to those of you with an idea is to explore who may already have the facilities and expertise to work with you on your prototype, and eventually manufacture for you. Many manufactures in the USA have existing capacity, experience and the skills you need. They maybe making something completely different currently but the fit maybe there to work with you too! It's a great starting place.


My next 'good fortune' was that I found a group called the Inventors Workshop International (IWI) and as luck would have it this international non-profit group is headquartered in Santa Barbara, and believe it or not, is located one block from the manufacturing company I mentioned! My background is IT and Sales; I am totally new to design, manufacturing and retail and I had never thought I would ever be inventing anything. IWI is a wonderful organization that supports people to fully explore their idea for a new concept, be it a physical product, intellectual property, or a non-profit... This organization was very instrumental in guiding me through the process of bring my idea to fruition and continues to support me through these early days of my new business. See IWI: http://www.inventorsworkshop.info/index.php I have worked with two other good organizations that support individuals wishing to start up their own business and they are SCORE and WEV

SCORE, Counselors to America's Small Businesses, is a nonprofit association dedicated to entrepreneur education and the formation, growth and success of small business nationwide. SCORE is a resource partner with the U.S Small Business Administration (SBA) http://sbscore.org/about_score.html

WEV: Womens Economic Ventures Women’s Economic Ventures (WEV, pronounced “weave”) is a local, non-profit organization dedicated to creating a just and equitable society through the economic empowerment of women. http://www.wevonline.org/


With the support of a local manufacturer willing to work with me on my prototype, and IWI, my idea now had wings...

First blog...

My intention with this little blog is to document, on a weekly basis, my progress in trying to start a new business and track my progress in launching a new product that I designed and manufacture.

I was inspired to do this as a 'blog' as opposed to in a personal journal, as I have had so much support from complete strangers in bringing an idea to market, that I think some of my experiences may be of interest to others and motivate them too, to take their idea to the next level... I know I will also be climbing a steep learning curve and therefore my experiences may be of assistance to others in perhaps avoiding some of the challenges I am sure I will be creating for myself due to lack of prior experience, and funds,... thus my 'journal' will be 'public', at least for now ;-)

The best laid plans... We are six months into my project and I finally get to my blog! Basically once we got started with our first soft launch/field market research in April 2010 my little business seemed to take on a life of its own and suddenly here we are six months later and no blogs! Thus now I am making the commitment to blog once a week, so that those who are interested in following the launch of our start-up company can, here! Welcome!

And as I look at my blogs header I laugh; I love my marketing teams title for this blog; "...fabulous tales of product and branding success..." You can see they titled the page; the reality ought to be 'the trials, tribulations, and wins involved in launching a new product" or 'the adventures of a crazy woman with no relevant background or experience launching a new pet product on a tight budget'... you get the picture. Anyway here we are and as I am late to the game in starting this blog I will drop in tomorrow and start with a quick recap of PoopPacs adventures thus far. But right now off to the post office as we have PoopPacs to ship!

What is PoopPac Dog Walkers Case?

PoopPac Dog Waste Bag Carrier and Poop Bag Dispenser

PoopPac, the dog-walker’s companion. The PoopPac is a tough, lightweight case designed to carry both used and unused dog waste bags, ensuring you will never be without a bag when you need one, or stuck carrying a dog poop bag after you clean up after your pet.

PoopPac’s unique patented design has two separate compartments. Our front main compartment features a wipe clean lining suitable to contain your ‘package’ and an activated charcoal filter to assist in absorbing the odors. Enclosed in this zippered rigid compartment your pet’s used dog waste bag can now be transported safely, elegantly and worry free leaving you ‘hands free’ to enjoy your walk. We have designed our dog walkers bag with a separate rear compartment to carry and dispense your new dog waste bags efficiently and to hold small personal items such as keys, phone, tissues, hand sanitizer etc.

PoopPac is attractive, practical, durable and fully machine washable; the perfect dog walkers accessory!

PoopPac includes multiple options to suit your carrying needs:
• Built in Belt Clip
• Removable Wrist Lanyard
• Removable Shoulder Strap
Case Dimensions: w x h x d = 7” x 5 1/2” x 3 1/4” (approximately: 17 cm x 14 cm x 8 cm)

PoopPac's main compartment features:
• wipable lining to contain your ‘package’
• activated charcoal filter to assist in absorbing odors.

• rigid, zippered enclosure to ensure that your pets package can be transported

safely and elegantly, leaving your hands ‘free’ to enjoy your walk.

PoopPac's rear compartment is designed to:
• efficiently carry and dispense unused waste bags.
• to be suitable for holding small personal items such as keys,
phone, tissues, hand sanitizer etc.

PoopPac’s attractive case is:
• constructed using a patented thermoforming process which produces a tough, lightweight, molded case designed specifically to withstand harsh environments.
•machine washable; use warm soapy water

With PoopPac your attention returns to enjoying your walk rather than focusing on finding the nearest trash can!