May 25, 2012
Interview with Puppy Cake Founder Kelly Chaney
Entrepreneur Kelly Chaney of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania was kind enough to sit down and answer questions about the growth that she and her company have experienced since taping and appearing on ABC’s Shark Tank. If you are interested in ordering Puppy Cake, you can find it in Retail Stores, the Puppy Cake Website and on Amazon.
Just Elementary: How long were you actually in front of the Sharks?
Kelly Chaney of Puppy Cake: I wish I could remember how long I stood in front of them. I estimate it was about 15 minutes. I found myself remembering things that happened in the tank weeks after filming.
Just Elementary:. Was the edited version on T.V. close to what really happened?
Kelly Chaney of Puppy Cake For me, what was portrayed on TV was very close to what actually happened. The order that the sharks went out was a little different with Daymond John being the last one out. Some funny things happened that weren’t shown. Robert Herjavec actually got out of his chair and gave his glass of water to Minnie, the dog. She also got distracted by a fly and started chomping at the air.
Just Elementary: Was there anything edited out that you would like America to know?
Kelly Chaney of Puppy Cake: I had some pretty sensational stats about the business that were edited regarding how in the first year I grew 250%, spent almost nothing on advertising, got to be number one on google and how I was doing all of this part time.
Just Elementary: Before you went on the show, did you have anyone do a professional Valuation of your business? How did you decide how much to ask for?
Kelly Chaney of Puppy Cake: I did not have a professional evaluate my company before I went on the show. I asked for $50k for 25% and I think that I was asking too much at the time. Now, I feel it is an accurate valuation.
Just Elementary: You mentioned your biggest weakness is making cold calls… after the show did you make the call to Uncle Jimmy’s Brand Products or did they contact you? Would you say you have overcome your weakness?
Kelly Chaney of Puppy Cake: When I was going through the process for Shark Tank, I was negotiating my licensing deal with Uncle Jimmy’s Brand Products, something that I was upfront about with the producers. We connected through a mutual friend, to put it simply. After I filmed for the show and returned to Pittsburgh, I signed the deal with Uncle Jimmy’s Brand Products. In regards to my weakness, I am so much braver and am enlightened to the fact that it was my emotions that were holding me back from doing cold calls and nothing else. I have vowed to not let my emotions drive my business; rational thought and strategic planning will drive it.
Just Elementary: Have you started distributing the product through any retail stores mentioned in the press release?
Kelly Chaney of Puppy Cake: Puppy Cake is in several hundred new stores and we are a few meetings away from being in some very large retailers, including a high end grocery store. As soon as these customer place their first order, we will be announcing from the roof tops, until then, I want to be discreet about who I am negotiating with at this time.
Just Elementary: How many boxes of Puppy Cake have you sold since the show aired?
Kelly Chaney of Puppy Cake: My goal after the show was to sell 10,000 boxes and we are very close to that. If you wait a few more days, I will have a sales report hot off the press that I am happy to share with the world.
Just Elementary: Are you planning to add any other products to your line?
Kelly Chaney of Puppy Cake: I am definitely planning on adding new products to the line. I have one product that is currently in the branding stage, as we are developing the packaging, another product has a logo and a name, but needs some tweaks to meet retailers needs of a longer shelf life. I made a few attempts at a cake for cats, but as I got mediocre responses, I decided to go with my gut and cancel the project. There was just very little evidence that supported the notion of a cake for cats as cats are carnivores. If I can’t create the very best product, I am not going to add it to my line.
Just Elementary: You wrote on your blog that you created and worked on your pitch on your own…after going through the experience, would you recommend others to get a Coach to help prepare them for the negotiations and discussions with the Sharks? Especially those approaching a Shark for the first time? Do you think that would have been beneficial for you?
Kelly Chaney of Puppy Cake: Everyone is different when it comes to negotiating. I am very competitive and I like to be challenged, so the atmosphere of the tank was a place where I thrive. I know that one of my fellow contestants panicked and did not go on, but sent his partner instead. It was just too much pressure for him. In that instance, a coach may have been beneficial for that person. Generally speaking, I think coaches can be a huge asset for an entrepreneur. I personally explored the idea of adding a coach well after my episode aired. I don’t think the outcome would have been different. The sharks were not dog people and I knew they would struggle to see themselves using it.
Kelly Chaney of Puppy Cake: Here is some Sensational info:
A. Order every 20 seconds starting from the moment the show ended.
B. Went from selling 5,000 boxes in 2011 to selling nearly 5,000 boxes a month after Shark Tank.
C. Had over 1,000 emails by 6:30 AM the next day
D. Featured in InTouch Weekly
E. Received 18k unique visitors to the site the night of airing
I have had some personal successes: I have written one young adult novel and am working on a business oriented book: “Hard Questions for New Entrepreneurs: the 60 Minute Guide to Determine Whether or Not You Should Start a Business” which generated interest from several literary agents before I even wrote the outline. I am furiously trying to finish the proposal while balancing my responsibilities at Puppy Cake. It has been really fun to write!
If you are interested in ordering the product, you can order it on Amazon, in Retail Stores, and the Puppy Cake Website.
It’s great to see that Kelly Chaney has grown Puppy Cake sales by wisely utilizing the National Television Exposure from Shark Tank and by being a quick learner with how the Retail Industry works.
May 10, 2012
Tory Johnson's Spark and Hustle
Puppy Cake of Pittsburgh, Pa., launched in 2007, makes innovative and natural pet products, beginning with Puppy Cake brand cake mix for dogs.
‘Ah ha’ moment that led you to launching this business: I used to work at a sales and marketing firm and one of my clients made cake mixes. Looking at their past cake mix advertisements, I thought wouldn’t that be great if they made that for dogs? People love their dogs, myself included, and I imagined that many dog owners would want to provide their dog with a cake. That was my light bulb moment. I did a search for cake mix for dogs and found two disappointing options that lacked any appeal because of they used crude packaging, had strange flavors like pizza or pot roast and were expensive. Knowing that people are the ones who buy products — not dogs — I wanted to create a cake mix that was close to cake mix for people. People are accustomed to sweet flavors like chocolate or vanilla with professional packaging and easy to use instructions that require things that would already be in their kitchen. I spent the next several weeks researching canine nutrition and eventually came up with two recipes that were healthy, easy and tantalizing to dogs.
Ideal customer: Puppy Cake’s ideal customer is a woman who owns at least one dog and treats her dog like family.
First Customer: I began with just the website and advertised on Google adwords as well as a few dog websites.
Measuring Success: Every time I get affirmation that I have a good product, whether it’s a successful advertising campaign or a compliment from a customer, I feel like I am a success. I have goals that I post up on my cork board above my computer (so I can’t ignore them). They range from simple things like revamping the website to snagging the largest distributor of pet products.
Biggest Struggle: My biggest challenge has been getting capital. At first it was so easy because I have great credit and banks were freely lending. But by the spring of 2008, everything dried up. Most of my spending limits were dramatically reduced with little to no notice and by no fault of my own. It really stunted to growth of my company. I got creative in advertising my business. I require all of my advertising campaigns to have a 100% return on investment and I have sophisticated ways of calculating that before I make the ad buy. I also relied heavily on free publicity. To save money I purchased the book, How to Be Your Own Publicist — so that I wouldn’t have to pay a publicist.
Surprise!: I had no idea how difficult it was to make a dollar. Perhaps it was my youthful naiveté fueled by the American dream, but I really thought I would have $1million in sales in the first year. It takes time to build a brand and reputation.
Promoting Business: I have found that publicity is by far the most effective way to gain new customers, but I am limited in my control in that regard so I rely heavily on social media, especially Facebook. Posting pictures of happy customers is an especially effective way to encourage sales.
Two things I wish I would’ve known: I wish that I had had an understanding of the pet industry when I began. I thought that I could just grow my business with online sales on my website when, in fact, most of my business comes from selling to distributors and large chains. Getting a distributor to carry a new product has been a huge challenge and I didn’t know that having only one product is a major barrier for entry.
What keeps you up at night (business-wise!)?: I worry about capital more than anything. I am lucky to have a very small amount of debt, but it is just enough to take a major chunk of cash flow away from growing the business and paying myself. I worry about paying it back, accruing interest and how I will continue to finance growth.
Ever tempted to throw in the towel and just get a job?: I have thought that many times. Every time I come to a road block, I have prayed and asked God to tell me if I should stop doing this, but every time, a solution or affirmation to continue comes my way.
Moving Forward: To gain national distribution. To achieve this, I am working diligently to garner new distributors, chain stores and independent retailers across the country.
Pricing, Getting It Right?: Puppy Cake is a tangible product, which makes pricing a little easier. When I set the price for Puppy Cake, I considered the alternative to consumers and then other gourmet dog treats — plus the consumer mindset of cake mix. Gourmet treats run between $5 – $10 and a store bought cake for dogs cost between $15-30. I settled in at $7 which seems to be the sweet spot.
A Few Good Tips: Manufacturing is heavily dependent on cash flow because you can’t just order 200 branded boxes to fill your 200 box order this month; you have to order 5,000 boxes at a time which can tie up a lot of cash. It may take you a year to use all those boxes, so you have to be able to float an entire year’s worth of boxes right away. This makes adding new products challenging, because every new product comes with a hefty price tag, but it is critical to growing the business. You can’t be scared to create new products, but also wise with your money. Profit margins are usually between 40%-60%, so you have to remember a $10,000 sale isn’t really $10,000, its $4,000 – $6,000 that you can actually use for operations.
The absolute best part of owning my business is: taking ownership of all the successes of my company.
If I had to start over again, I would: have a business coach help me from day one.
I never imagined: getting distribution would be so difficult.
If standing on a rooftop facing crowds of aspiring or struggling small business owners, I would shout: “Don’t be afraid to ask for help.”
February 26, 2012
Shark Tank Made Me Rich!
February 17, 2012
My Experience on Shark Tank
By Kelly Chaney
This detailed story talks about every step it took to walk through the down the Shark Tank hallway. Read the story from application to the show airing on Kelly Chaney's blog.
February 12, 2012
By PAM PARKER Erie Times-News staff blogger
Puppy cakes didn’t make sharks bite
On the most recent episode of Shark Tank, an entrepreneur was shopping for investors for her Puppy Cakes, a cake mix formulated specifically for dogs. No one bit on it, but my husband and I thought it was extremely clever. And at $6.99 for a peanut butter, carob or banana cake mix. Who wouldn’t bite on that?
You can buy the mix at these retailers, but none are around Erie or at puppycake.com. I still think it’s a great idea, and even though the company didn’t get an investment from the sharks, it’s still offering a Shark Tank discount of 3 boxes for $20. Nearly 1,600 boxes have been purchased since it appeared on Shark Tank, two days ago. Now, there’s some news worth barking about.
February 10, 2012
ABC’s Shark Tank
ENTREPRENEUR: Kelly Chaney
PITCH: Puppy Cake
ASKING FOR: $50k for a 25% stake
BEST PART OF THE PITCH: Kelly developed a canine-friendly cake mix that is safe for dogs to eat. She's had over $80,000 in sales over four years. She sells to about 150 retailers with some being international. She's also been featured in many dog-friendly magazines.
DO THE SHARKS BITE? Kevin thinks it may be too much of a chore to ask a person to bake a cake for their dog. He forbids her to continue with this venture. He's out. Robert thinks this a novelty product that he can't get behind. He's out. Lori also bails. Mark actually likes the product, but doesn't think she's committed enough to it. He's out. Daymond follows his lead. Lori just learned that it's tough to sell a puppy product to a shark.
February 10, 2012
WTAE Pittsburgh ABC News
2011 Holiday Gift Guide
It’s hard to avoid cakes these days as multiple television shows highlight more creative cake designs, and cupcake shops seem to have popped up overnight in every town. With all the attention paid to these frosted creation what’s a lab to think? Rather than suffer that look we all know, you can bake him his own dessert now. Coming complete with yogurt frosting, puppy cake has three flavors: carob (a chocolate substitute), banana; and a wheat free peanut butter. Similar to human cake mix, all you need to add are eggs, water, and oil. Made with natural and vet approved ingredients, these cakes are said to have many digestive and immune system boosting qualities. Using sweet honey with carob or banana satisfies a sweet tooth of any dog, and each flavor is specially formulated for their palate. Each box makes six medium-sized cupcakes or a double layer 4 inch round cake. Puppy cake also offers a non-stick bone shaped cupcake pan, a non-stick bone shaped cake pan and organic sprinkles.
Urban Dog Magazine
Urban Dog readers are the types that tend to celebrate their pups’ birthday. Puppy Cake is the perfect way to add a little more razzle-dazzle to that special day. Made with natural and vet approved ingredients, each flavor is specially formulated for the palates of dogs. Using sweet honey with carob or banana satisfies the sweet tooth of dogs. The yogurt frosting in the box is just as delicious to dogs as butter cream frosting is to people. It has many digestive and immune system boosting qualities. Flavors include peanut butter, banana and carob. Each box makes six medium sized cupcakes or a double layer 4 inch round cake. www.puppycake.com
(translated from German)
(well master) fun things to do
For your dog, muffins by Puppy Cake
Puppy Cakes Dog Cake Mix: Mmmm good product review
April 07, 2011 • Product Reviews
by Kelly Ladouceur
Anybody that knows me well understands that I have a serious aversion to cooking. If I don’t cook for myself, then I’m definitely not going to cook for my dogs. So when I was approached about doing a product review of PuppyCake Dog Cake mix, I was a bit hesitant. I checked out the company’s website (http://www.puppycake.com) and felt somewhat reassured by the assurances that the product was simple to use.
The peanut butter flavored cake mix arrived in the mail a few days before my youngest dog’s third birthday. I decided that this was the perfect time to try the product and spoil my dogs at the same time. I read the instructions on the box, and decided that they sounded fairly simple. The only additional ingredients required were an egg, a bit of oil and some water. Okay, I could manage this. I dug out the cupcake pan and set to work.
As soon as I started mixing up the cupcake batter, the dogs raced into the kitchen and crowded around my feet, praying to the kitchen gods that something would fall from the sky. Since this was for the dogs, I let them lick out the bowl once the batter was in the cupcake pan (FYI, my regular sized cupcake pan made 5 cupcakes with the ingredients supplied). They loved every second of it! The whole house smelled like peanut butter, making me drool almost as much as the dogs.
After the cupcakes baked and cooled, I mixed up the frosting (included) and iced the cupcakes. Then I unleashed the hounds on the goodies – one full cupcake for each dog, plus two cupcakes for their doggy friends. The dogs loved the cupcakes – my old dog ate his without really chewing, all in one piece. My two younger dogs spent hours trying to get every last crumb out of their ears, not wanting to waste anything. Their two doggy friends had the same reaction as my guys did, savoring every last bite.
The PuppyCakes were very easy to mix and bake, even for a non-baker like myself. They were well worth the minimal amount of effort, since the dogs enjoyed them so much. A person could easily get more cupcakes out of the mix by not filling each cupcake cup full. I would most definitely recommend this product to friends, and am interested in making them again. The PuppyCake website includes a list of distributors throughout the US and Canada, making this product readily available in North America, So go ahead, spoil those dogs – they’re worth it! Learn more here: PuppyCake Dog Cake
Note: We accept no monetary compensation for reviews. Review is NOT sponsored by PuppyCake and is the sole opinion of the reviewer for FIDO Friendly magazine. We welcome your feedback and comments.
TAILS PET MEDIA GROUP, INC.
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If you’ve ever tried brushing your pet’s teeth, it is most likely an experience you’ll never forget. With TropiClean’s line of safe and natural products, you may never have to brush again. Available in many different forms, your pet can now chew or drink his way to healthier oral hygiene. And while you can feel good about going green, there is another important perk: No more doggie-breath!
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5. Eco-Lucks Collar
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6. Puppy Cake
Celebrating Earth Day with a four-legged companion? This delicious, all-natural cake will have all the guests drooling for more. Complete with yogurt frosting, choose from Fifi’s Favorite Carob, Buddy’s Best Banana, or Wheat-Free Peanut Butter. This easy-to-make, yummy treat will satisfy your dog’s sweet tooth…and tastes so good you may be tempted to take a bite yourself! Check out this company’s bone-shaped pans and Organic Sprinklez, too.
$7 | PuppyCake.com
Pet Food Industry Magazine
Puppy Cake LLC Peanut Butter Wheat-Free Cake Mix for dogs
More products from this company
Puppy Cake LLC offers a wheat-free peanut butter cake mix for dogs. The cake can be topped with the included yogurt frosting mix. Ingredients in the cake mix are brown rice flour, evaporated cane juice, peanut flour, baking powder and salt