Tails of Volunteering

Ok so Dura Doggie is kind of obsessed with giving back.  It’s not that we mean to brag.  There is simply a lot of need out there, especially with the recent financial hard times.  So over the holiday season we decided to launch a new volunteer program where we would pledge our time on a regular basis to different organizations in Orange County.  We’re really excited to become more involved with our local community.

We started in December, which is overflowing with needs for volunteers; from wrapping presents to serving food to caroling.  Our singing voices are bit *ahem* rusty, so we decided upon Operation Santa Claus in Santa Ana.  This amazing group is coordinated by the Social Services Agency and provides over 45,000 gifts and toys to needy children in the system.  On our day, we got to be Santa’s helpers by sorting and displaying the toys, suggesting gift ideas and helping out at the checkout counter.  It was a bustling day of witnessing the holiday spirit of giving firsthand.

Even though the next few months found us extremely busy at Dura Doggie, we took time at the beginning of February to head over to the You Are Special Food Pantry in Orange, CA.  For about a decade now they have been handing out packages of food to the homeless and working poor in the city of Orange.  A whole spectrum of organic produce, bread, desserts, meat, and dairy items is collected from generous local grocery stores and given to about 250 families who line up every Wednesday morning.  We got to participate the day before by receiving and sorting all the food that would be handed out.

Upon arriving, we were warmly greeted by Eric Hensley, the pastor at the church next door, who gave us the official tour of their facility.  Shortly after getting started, we met Michelle Hensley, who started YAS in 2002 out of a growing need she recognized in the community.  Throughout the day as we sorted food, we got to talk with more members of their family and work alongside people who regularly give their time at You Are Special.  We met amazing people and for one day we got to be a part of work that goes on every week and is needed every day.  As a group we look forward to helping out at the You Are Special Food Pantry again.

More “tails” of our volunteering adventures to follow!


The Dura Doggie Team


Unique LA Show Recap

Well here we find ourselves starting out in a shiny new year while still catching our breath from the whirlwind of the last.  Like a lot of businesses, the holiday season brings with it a sense of frenzy and the much-welcomed rush of orders.

Right in the middle of this wildness we decided to pack up the “Chews Your Cause” line and caravan up to Los Angeles to be a part of the Unique LA show on December 3rd + 4th.  Who’s name certainly tells no lies, as the largest independent design show in the country.  Each vendor is hand selected to be a part of this event, so as a result attendees get an exclusive chance to meet and shop directly with hundreds of individual artists and designers.  We were thrilled to be a part of this consumer show and get the chance to present our toys to the end user for a change.

We love sharing in the excitement our products generate among dog lovers.  We even sold a Beba toy to a little girl’s father when his daughter wouldn’t give up on wanting one for herself!  We always have so much fun being a Unique LA vendor, and this time was no different.  The food was yummy, the music made us want to dance and the people we met were incredible, not to mention all the cool art, crafts and beautiful handmade items we were surrounded by.   JJ Abrams himself even sent us a quick email to let us know that his dog is happily enjoying the Beba toy he got at the show.  A successful show indeed.


-The Dura Doggie Team-

Dura Doggie Keeps On Growing!

           As the holiday season quickly approaches, Dura Doggie as well is moving forward at full speed.

           We recently traded our sunny California skies for the crisp air of Chicago over the October 14th-16th weekend to attend the annual HH Backer Christmas Pet Trade Show.  Representing Dura Doggie were college friends, CEO Raad Mobrem, CFO Chase McElroy and CTO Frank Jones.  Newest member, Elaine Vigil joined the guys to round out the team as part of the sales department.  Proud to present the latest line of Dura Doggie’s Chews Your Cause socially conscious dog toys, the young and empowered team looks to change the face of the pet products industry.

Named by Tradeshow Week as one of the 200 largest tradeshows in the US, the HH Backer Christmas Pet Trade Show features more than 600 exhibitors with over 1,100 booths displaying everything from doggie boots to eco-chic pet beds.  Dura Doggie’s presence was felt as part of the new product showcase at the front of the show and many visitors were drawn to the booth as a result of participating in the show’s scavenger hunt.  Side note: the answer to our question “Who designed the Dura Doggie logo?” is Chase’s Mom!  A little known fact is that the logo cutie was designed after Chase’s childhood puppy, Lucky.  The bright, cheerful booth paired with a virtually paperless system for staying in contact with all our favorite customers was a big hit at the show.  Even though this trade show was a first in the pet industry for Elaine, she proved herself a promising asset to the Dura Doggie team.  We even got a break from the bustling show to explore a little of what Chicago has to offer, visiting Millennium Park to see Cloud Gate, the beautiful mirrored sculpture in the center of the city.

The value of each team member is apparent at Dura Doggie, with the 3 co-founders taking active roles in preparing and executing the trip to the show.  Growth within our company is also showing, because in addition to our stellar new sales person, Elaine, we have also brought on Sam, The Awesome Intern.  Sam currently attends Vanguard University and works wonders with all things audio and visual for Dura Doggie.

The energized team is committed to their mission of giving back while excited to be growing and moving forward at the same time.  Raad, Chase and Frank are looking to the future for more opportunities to help make the planet a better place, change the face of the pet industry and continue to grow the Chews Your Cause Campaign.

Dura Doggie Testimonials: The Ruff Cut

It is my privilege to present a behind the scenes look at the upcoming Dura Doggie video testimonials that will be released in the upcoming months!

Dura Doggie Testimonials: The Ruff Cut


Sarah Doretti

– Dura Doggie Intern

Lights, Camera, Action!

For the last several weeks, the Dura Doggie Team has been scouring the Orange County area to find amazing dogs and their owners to be “Dura Doggie Video Stars”.  From visiting dog parks and beaches, to advertising on Facebook and Twitter, the Team has put a great deal of effort into making this new promotional adventure into a reality.  The new video series features testimonials from people who have fallen in love with their Dura Doggie toys and want to tell the world about it!  They say in the movie industry you are never supposed to work with kids or animals, but of course we took that as a challenge.  We decided to work with both kids and dogs…and often at the same time!  What we got was some incredibility cute footage that will melt the heart of Mr. Scrooge himself.

We spent a week shooting our fabulous “Dura Doggie Video Stars” who represented all walks of life from men currently suffering from diabetes to little girls who love helping animals.  We were able to capture some great moments, and now begins the long post production process.  Somehow, I have to figure out what is going to be cut and what to save…when I want to keep all of it!  Within the next few months, we will be releasing the fruits of our labor on our website, Facebook, and YouTube.

Keep an eye out for a behind the scenes look at the new Dura Doggie testimonials, coming soon to a computer near you!


-Sarah Doretti

Dura Doggie, Intern

Dura Doggie Supporting TOMS

Last week TOMS announced they were branching their One for One campaign to not only shoes, but sunglasses! To support Blake Mycoskie, the founder of TOMS, the Dura Doggie team took a little road trip up to Santa Monica to the reveal event. The crowd who came out to show their support was not disappointed by the excitement of the new sunglasses and was given the opportunity to try the new styles on.  Every pair of sunglasses purchased gave one person the gift of medical treatment, prescription glasses or sight-saving surgery. Having the ability to see affects every part of life in every country, so what a great new direction TOMS is going! The all day event included bands, a photo booth, various artists, and a bubble station that Chase and Frank particularly enjoyed. Raad even made friends with a fluffy white dog! Everyone had a great time.

It is so encouraging to see other companies giving back to causes they are passionate about. Now back in the office, the Dura Doggie team feels rejuvenated at a fellow company’s success and there is a renewed excitement for the important charities we are supporting. The goal of giving back to significant causes is what motivates us to get up and sell amazing dog toys every day. We LOVE what we do, and are excited to see more growth and awareness!

Chews your Cause today!

–       Sarah Doretti

Dura Doggie, Intern

Makin’ Sales and Givin’ Back

Although Steve Jobs claimed 2011 would be the year of the iPad 2, here at Dura Doggie we know it will truly be remembered as the year of Dura Doggie’s Chews Your Cause! In March we went to the Global Pet Expo in Orlando Florida and the trip lived up to our expectations- Dura Doggie toys will be sold all over the globe this year! In the beginning of the year we had so many orders from so many new stores that it was difficult to keep up with the demand, but we’ve ramped up production and we’re thrilled to start shipping out toys worldwide. Even more exciting is that the more toys we sell, the more we raise for Chews Your Cause!

Speaking of giving to charity, we recently donated over a thousand Dura Doggie Discs (our first toy) to a non-profit that will distribute them to various animal shelters, making for happy dogs that will soon be adopted by happy owners. How cool is that?

I’ll leave you with an old shot of my dog Lucky and me. We named him Lucky because out of the whole litter we chose him, so he was the “lucky” one. He’s so lucky, in fact that we chose him as the logo for Dura Doggie!

Don’t forget to CHEWS YOUR CAUSE!

-Chase McElroy

CFO, Dura Doggie

2010: The Year In Review

Chews Your Cause: Breast Cancer

2010 was quite an adventure! We were confident that our new pet toys would be a hit, but were totally blown away by the response at SuperZoo. We crushed our goals! That’s where we launched our “Chews Your Cause” campaign, starring the Beba Toy and Nebo Ball, designed by Raad. These and our future products are color coded to represent specific causes such as Breast Cancer, Diabetes, Animal Shelters, and the Planet. Twenty percent of our profits benefit the coordinating cause. We’re really excited because these new products are colorful, made in the USA, smell great, AND help raise money for charities. We’re also launching an amazing iPad app designed by Frank to assist sales reps with taking orders and capturing contacts. It can also integrate with QuickBooks and shipping companies to process orders in minutes rather than hours.

Pictured below is our crew at SuperZoo.

Dura Doggie at SuperZoo2010

Pictured below is our Beba Prototype with Max. (Named after a Maximus Decimus Meridius)

Dura Doggie: Beba Prototype

Become a fan of “Chews Your Cause” and share our story with your Facebook friends.

Dura Doggie: Beba Family

Pictured above is the Beba family: Chews Your Cause!

Thanks for stopping by!

-Chase McElroy

CFO, Dura Doggie

Starting our Dog Toy Company: Calculated Risk

The quarter was over and our entrepreneurialism course was gone forever. But, we had a great product; an actual physical object that we could take from our hands and place into potential consumer hands. But the question was would we want to take the risk? Did we want to spend all of our life savings to go further into this “thing” we call business? I mean all of us were smart kids with good GPA’s and even in the most turmoil of times, we still had jobs lined up…although we all knew that boredom would follow with those chosen careers paths. But was the risk worth it…to start from scratch.

Personally, I like taking risks, but I like doing it in a way that includes great calculation. For instance, an average Joe goes to Vegas to play poker and relies solely on pure luck. He drinks his drink and attempts to conquer a game, having very little understanding of his cards and what they mean; he has no real sense of combination or statistics and most of time, that person is going to end up both broke and drunk (sorry if I offend anyone). But if that same guy read up on his poker and practiced with friends or on the computer before he attempted his methods, he would have a much better chance of winning.

So we decided we would test the waters before we would jump full on into the dangerous river. During my spring break of my senior year, I decided to ditch the Mexico trip filled with booze, girls, and possibly some of the most memorable times in my life… and headed to San Diego, California to make an attempt at selling the Dura Doggie Disc. We had not even produced packaging at this point and it was a long shot, but in the long term end of things, it seemed well worth it. For instance, if I failed, at least I got to practice my sales skills by cold calling stores and if I succeeded, then we had a business to start and grow. I drove the four hours south that I needed to and finally landed in the downtown area of San Diego where my older brother lives. The skyscrapers were all new, the weather was sunny and perfectly warm, and there were dogs of all sizes and breeds everywhere you looked. I had thought to myself, no wonder San Diego was voted as one of the friendliest dog cities around. It truly was amazing and I was excited and scared all at the same time.

The next morning, I woke up from my brother’s comfortable couch, shaved, showered, brushed my teeth, grabbed a quick bite to eat, and headed out the door. The previous night, I had made a list of stores by searching for “pet stores in San Diego, Ca” on Google maps and inputting them into an excel spread sheet. At the time, I did not have a GPS device so I would input the directions from one store to the next into a column next to the store name on my sheet…it was so inefficient (I recommend buying the GPS device and saving yourself a lot of time). If I’d get lost, then the whole day would be ruined. Luckily, I stayed the course and made it to about ten stores that day.

When I arrived at the first store that I was going to pitch to, I almost didn’t do it. I was thinking, “What am I doing right now?” As I mentioned before, we didn’t even have packaging, and I had never done this before, and I could almost guarantee that this store never heard about us before either…but I finally realized that it didn’t matter and did it anyways. I walked into a great store called “Dexter’s Deli” in Del Mar and it was crowded. Situated very close to the beach, this store was clean, organized, and had a great style to it. I waited till the crowd drifted out the store and approached a lovely lady named “Paige.” She asked me what she could do for me and I went into my little speech about how we started and what our product is…she order some on the spot. I couldn’t believe it. I really couldn’t. I was filled with joy and more importantly, a sense of relief.

After I gave her the discs, I headed to the next spot and boom, once again they ordered on the spot. I headed to another store and although they didn’t order right then and there, they eventually placed an order. Keep in mind that not every store I went to really appreciated our story and our product…I definitely got the cold shoulder at some places and it’s just the way of the game. But my high from the initial stores was still going strong. Over the next five days, I got almost twenty stores to carry our product and they continue to re-order to this day.

What seemed like a risk was nothing but a mere bump in our rode to success. It takes courage, and a little bit of fear to be successful. I say fear because fear is what keeps you in check and allows you to reason whether something is feasible or not. Had we not done that test and just rushed into business with no fear, we could have lost a lot of hard earned money had our product been a fluke. But instead, we tiptoed in a little before we fully devoted our time, energy, and resources…we took a very calculated risk.

This is our story about how a few college students took a class project and ran with it. Keep reading and more stories to follow of our life in the entrepreneur’s shoes and how we took a small dog toy company and made it huge.

-Raad Mobrem

President, Dura Doggie

Non-toxic Dog Toys: Money or Ethics…(Hint: Ethics)

Dura Doggie was our future. Dura Doggie was our present. Dura Doggie was our golden opportunity to live the American dream. We had finally decided that our little class project was more than the typical homework assignment and that we could actually make something more for ourselves than the nine to five lifestyle. We were filled with excitement and surprisingly had no worries about anything in our path. We weren’t worried about costs, we weren’t worried about warehousing…we weren’t worried about anything but how fast our pockets would be filled up with cash. Our casual attitude would soon change.

Our product at the time of the class was nothing more than a simple idea and really all that was required for the class. But we thought what if we could actually make our physical product. Our initial goal was to get the best grade in the class and impress the professor (he is very well connected and would be a great networking connection for potential jobs). So we asked Chase’s dad if he knew of any manufactures that could help with the development of our concept and luckily one was more than helpful. Our new manufacture loved our college story and wanted to do anything that he could to get us on the right track. He made one thousand units and sent it to us, on consignment (that means free until sold). We were so excited.

We showed all the pet stores and they were thrilled. They loved the products and told us that when we were ready, they would sell our product. Then one day, my aunt’s neighbor saw me playing with the toy in the driveway and she asked me what I was playing with…I told her a new dog disc that doubled as water bowl on-the-go; also that it was super durable. She asked me where I got it and I told her that we just got it produced and we were the designers. She instantly ordered fifty discs for her dog’s birthday party at $15 a pop for a total of $750. I was shocked. We hadn’t even started our company yet and we were making some profit. We were thrilled, we were happy, and we were without focus…

Later that day, I talked with a distributor about what the processes were with dealing with a distributor and the margins they required (this was all research for the college class). At the last stretch of the phone conversation, he said that we shouldn’t forget to make sure our product was safe. My happiness was immediately taken from under my feet. We did some more research and quickly learned of lead poisoning and other horrible outcomes due to toxic pet toys. We knew that we had to get our product tested. Our goal was to create fun, not harm.

So that order of 50 got ruined because she needed them for her dog’s birthday party, but we knew $750 was not worth potentially harming an amazing creature. We asked around the chemistry department and my old Chem 1A teaching assistant referred us to a testing lab that would do the job for a decent price. We shipped out the product and waited and then waited some more. During that time, I learned of children’s requirements for elements such as lead or cadmium. These requirements were to become our requirements.

Then we got a letter in the mail and our fear got instantly erased. Our product had zero harmful components and was completely non-toxic. We were relieved and happy, not just because our product was safe, but because we made the ethical choice. Our dream was one step closer to becoming a reality.

So in the end, we could have made a little bit of cash without knowing the potential consequences, but instead we decided the risk was not one worth taking. Our thoughts were why would we want to hurt something so kind and beautiful? At that point in our company, we vowed to be an ethical and responsible company.

This is our story about how a few college students took a class project and ran with it. Keep reading and more stories to follow of our life in the entrepreneur’s shoes and how we took a small dog toy company and made it huge.

-Raad Mobrem

President, Dura Doggie