Gift Shop Pets talked with Bill Klein, co-founder of Pop-up Pee Pads and one half of the husband-and-wife team that owns Rocky and Maggie’s Pet Products.
Gift Shop Pets: Tell us how you came up with the idea for Pop-up Pee Pads?
Bill Klein: My dog, Rocky, became a part of the family in 2007. After moving from a house with a backyard in NY to an apartment in Houston, TX in 2008, we began to notice a problem with Rocky’s toileting habits. Instead of being able to spend lots of time outside, he was walked every 3-5 hours. This was a big change and one he didn’t agree with. He began marking furniture around the house (ie. the corner of the couch, a pair of shoes in the hallway, the kitchen chair leg). I became increasingly frustrated with the behavior and of having to clean up after him all of the time. I put a training pad on the floor in hopes of remedying the problem. And, at first, he would stand on the pad, lift his leg, and pee nearby. He moved back to the chair leg soon after. So, I put the pad under the chair leg, thinking at least I didn’t have to mop up the floor any longer.
It wasn’t long after I realized that there could be something bigger here. What if I could make a target that he could aim for and dispose of the whole thing afterward? I was surprised nothing like this was out there, and like most ideas, I forgot about it for a few years. The problem persisted and my patience continued to wane. Finally, in 2015, with the help of my brother Joe and his wife Karen, we developed the prototype for the Pop-Up Pee Pad. After a year and a half of patent applications and defense, and traveling around the world to identify a proper factory, the Pop-Up Pee Pad became a production reality.
GSP: You turned a problem into a business. Can you tell us a little about the industry need for these?
BK: The pet industry is huge. Industry experts have quoted more than $65 billion in annual revenue for this market, and as much as 1 percent of that is generated by pet training pad sales. Until the Pop-Up Pee Pad, no product has focused all of its attention on a product made specifically for male dogs. At nearly 50 percent of the dog population, most male dogs lift their leg to maturate. The problem lies in the fact that they do not understand their position in space or the trajectory of the urine stream. The solution is quite simple … we’ve given something to aim for, which solves their problem and their owner. The male pet training pad market has been historically underserved. Recently, inroads have been made with the introduction of the doggie diaper and the belly band. But those items can result in messy dogs and are therefore incomplete solutions.
GSP: Which platform do you find has been most successful for getting the word out about these great items?
BK: Every platform! I tell everyone I am in the pee pad business. Social media has been a great way to get to consumers directly. Tradeshows are a great way to introduce the product to people that influence the pet industry on a large scale and word of mouth, early adopters and testimonials drive it home for everyone. Every time I get a review from someone who has had overnight success with our pad, it’s like reliving the day Rocky peed on my first prototype … it was revolutionary for my couch and kitchen chair!