Many is the entrepreneur who’s been told his business idea is crap. Or words to that effect.
Rolland Champlin heard the same comments. He was unfazed. He knows his business idea is crap. Dog crap, to be specific.
In 2003, Champlin began a business called SnoutHouse, based in Glastonbury, Conn. It’s a “dog-waste containment system designed for dog owners who want to keep their lawns green and their shoes clean.” In other words, a canine outhouse. Thus the name: SnoutHouse.
It sounds goofy. It’s not. Champlin says he spends no time figuring out what to do with his, er, raw material and more time “figuring out what to do with my profits.”
Champlin developed SnoutHouse when his pet was pooping on his lawn. He decided to teach his dog to go in a defined area. Instead of a cat box, a dog box.
SnoutHouse looks like a flower patch. It’s 4 feet by 8 feet. Beneath the flowers is a bed of hardwood mulch and gravel. It’s held together with a wood frame. The system drains away a lot of the waste, making what’s left easier to pick up.
The system took two years to test and refine. Another challenge was training his canine to go in the SnoutHouse instead of the lawn. Champlin designed a manual that goes with the system.
If you have a hard time teaching your dog to sit, you may have a harder time teaching it to squat. “If you don’t want to take the time to utilize the manual,” Champlin says, “you can hire a trainer. The success of SnoutHouse is dependent on the efforts of the owner to train his dog.”
Champlin introduced the SnoutHouse at a local home and garden show. It was an immediate hit. And quickly profitable. He is now franchising the idea.
“The cost of materials is low and you’re able to sell the product at a premium,” he says. “Money in most cases is not an issue.” Americans spend $35 billion on their pets every year.
Champlin won’t reveal his revenues. But his Web site suggests SnoutHouse resellers can make an income of over $50,000 per year selling one SnoutHouse per week.
His advice to those who want to start their own pet-based business: target a group of pet lovers and you’ll have a lucrative consumer base.
Another piece of advice: “Never, ever give up!” Even if someone says your idea is crap.