The best businesses solve a distinct problem, and for Abe Geary that problem was getting his Giant Schnauzer into a Halloween costume. “Billie just wasn’t having it,” he admits. “So I thought, how do I get a costume on my dog without her knowing it?”
The answer was PetPaint, a colored furspray for dogs that will be featured on ABC’s Shark Tank today, Nov. 8, at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT. We’re excited to give you a sneak peak at this innovative entrepreneur and his growing business. There are no spoilers in this post, but next week we’ll follow up with a recap of the show and what Abe learned facing the Sharks.
One thing Abe didn’t need to learn from the Sharks was dedication. After he had the initial idea, it took two years to develop the product. Since there are currently no standards for canine cosmetics, he worked with veterinarians experienced in the FDA approval process to create a completely dog-safe product. He spent another year pitching distributors and retail stores, but traditional outlets were a tough sell since pet paint was an untested market.
So in March 2013, Abe opened an online store to sell directly to consumers. “I’m not a computer guy or e-commerce guy, just a crazy dude selling pet paint. I needed an e-commerce tool that was easy to use and could reach a wide range of people,” he said. “Once we found Bigcommerce, we were able to put that goal to bed.”
Within days of launching, PetPaint.com had its first online sale.
“You get this email that someone bought your product and it is the realization of a dream,” Abe said. “You do all this work, and of course you like the product, but the satisfaction of having someone else like it…it feels good.”
True to its inspiration, PetPaint saw a big surge around Halloween. Professional groomers love the temporary furspray and created some truly unique “costumes.” Beyond the holidays, it is an easy way for four-legged fans to show team spirit and there has even been a PetPaint marriage proposal.
Perhaps the most touching application of PetPaint is helping rescue dogs find new homes. “Young, cute puppies naturally get attention at adoption events,” Abe explains. “But put a couple hearts or stars on the older, disadvantaged dogs and suddenly they get attention too.”
The market for this feel-good novelty could be huge. According to the U.S. Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook, about 37 percent of American households own at least one dog, accounting for 70 million potential PetPaint canvases across the country. The national spotlight from Shark Tank should help Abe reach even more of them. “We’re at a full sprint right now,” he said. “I probably won’t slow down until every time I walk out of my house I see a painted dog.”
To see PetPaint in action, tune in to ABC at tonight, or catch the episode starting Saturday on Hulu. We can’t wait to cheer on Abe, Billie and their colorful business!