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