Interview With Erick Eidus
Describe your product or service:
“PupPod is a multispecies gaming platform. Dogs interact with a smart toy at the correct time to earn food rewards from a separate feeder, and the game gets harder as a dog gets smarter.
Humans can control the game from anywhere using their smartphone and stream video to check on their pup.”
Describe your company values and mission:
“Mission: PupPod is at the forefront of a new product category — a gaming platform that connects pets and their people. Pet parents want their pet to be part of their digital life and will purchase software-driven products that help them feel more connected to their pet and give their pet a better life.
- We want all customer[s] to be happy.
- We believe technology can lead to behavior modification through positive reinforcement.
- Technology can help pets and pet parents live better lives.”
How are you funded? I.e. venture capital, angel investors, etc.
How big is your team? Tell us a little about them (I.e. co-founders, freelancers, etc.)
“[We have] four core team members, about 30 contractors, and two manufacturing partners.”
Did you always want to start your own business? What made you want to become an entrepreneur?
“I like working for myself and taking on big challenges. I like building products and have a unique experience set to make this possible.”
How did you come up with your startup idea? How did you decide to actually act on the idea? What gave you confidence that you were on the right track?
“The origin story for PupPod is a confluence of inspirational moments.
The first inspiration occurred around 2010 when I was a first-time pet parent and didn’t know much about dogs. My dog, Puccini, would bark at dogs on TV, which is common, but one day I was watching a cartoon and he started barking at a cartoon dog. This experience helped me realize he was processing information at a much deeper level than I assumed. There was a lot more going on in his brain than I realized.
The second inspiration came from seeing kids with $500 iPads. Parents turned to technology to get a few minutes of quiet and get stuff done. Kids were entertained, and over time, more and more educational games and content emerged.
The third inspiration came from my experience building the early smartphones. I helped build a new product category that didn’t exist when I started and saw first-hand how the tech emerged and the products worked their way into people’s lives. That’s a big deal, and it became obvious to me that there was going to be a new product category of software-driven products for pets.
Similar to iPads for humans, I saw an opportunity to build similar tools for pets and pet parents[.] There are millions of pet parents who see their pet as a family member and feel an obligation to give them the best life possible.
Act on idea: I buil[t] a successful consulting company building mobile and web apps for other people. I wanted to build my own product.
Right track: I was a pioneer in building the smartphone product category. I've lived through building a new product category. It was obvious to me that there was going to be a software platform for multispecies gaming and if I didn't build it, someone else would.
Along the way, confidence came from seeing the idea of working with real dogs and talking with customers to understand how our product does something that's unique. There's no equivalent substitute. The pet industry follows the kid industry, so there were lots of patterns to match.
Since the launch of our version 2 product in holiday 2020, we've had over 1.3 million minutes of gameplay, dispensed over 1.1M times, and the average active customer uses our product for 32 minutes per day. I'd say we are on the right track.”
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What is the greatest challenge you faced in starting your business, and how did you overcome it?
“Raising money to build generation 2. It was like finding a needle in a haystack.”
Who is your product or service made for? Who is your target market?
“Pet parents. Millennials and Gen Z make up 52% of pet parents. But we also see people between 45 and 65 years old who are looking for convenience. 50% of pet parents work outside the home, and 15% are working from home. And tons of doggie daycares have closed due to COVID-19. Pet parents want a way to keep their dog occupied and having fun rather than bored and getting in trouble.”
What's your marketing strategy?
“Social media, affiliates, and influencers.”
How did you acquire your first 100 customers?
“Our gen 1 customer list.”
What are the key customer metrics / unit economics / KPIs you pay attention to to monitor the health of your business?
“CAC, % of sales coming from affiliates, minutes of gameplay per day, sales, revenue, % of customers who were active in the last X days[.]”
What's your favorite entrepreneurial book and podcast?
“Podcast: ‘StartUp’ and ‘The Pitch.’”
What is the biggest lesson you learned during your journey?
“The relationship with the co-founders is beyond important. We're VERY lucky and appreciate the ease of working together.”
Who is your support system?
How do you stay motivated?
“I'm driven. I know I'm right, and it's my life mission to invent this new product category. I'm constantly filled with new ideas we can build. Seeing real customers love the product I invented is rewarding.”
Did you have to develop any habits that helped lead you to success? If so, what are they?
“Wake up every day and take another step forward.”
What are you most proud of as an entrepreneur?
“Seeing customers use my product and the impact it has on their life. Their stories are awesome.”
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More on PupPod
PupPod is unlike any other dog toy or dog training device on the market and could prove to be a life-saver for millions of pet owners.
We were fortunate enough to hear some valuable insights during our interview with Erick Eidus of PudPod that will inspire, motivate, and teach aspiring and established entrepreneurs alike.