**: The paragraph numbers line up with videos that are being released, narrated by Elizabeth herself! Woah, lucky ducks! Check them out on our YouTube channel, http://bit.ly/2Kp0Dj6
1: I’m here, laying in bed trying to fall asleep, thinking about the long day, during the long week, of the long month, fulfilling the long year and half since taking on entrepreneurship full time. What an incredible year it’s been I reminisce. From the great to the bad, every painful step is the most gratifying step in the right direction. I know it’s cheesy to say but I truly have no regrets but also I truly believe the only way to regret something is to have never learned from it. And within that realm, I find it nearly impossible to not learn anything from any event. Thus, I’ve never been more happy, tired, fulfilled, stressed or full of love as I am right now and in each and every day from this last year and half.
2: I’m sure some of you are thinking, “it’s easy to say “I don’t believe in regrets” after the great week you probably just had”. Well it wasn’t what most would call, a “great week”. We lost our Trademark battle and we now have to change our name and most likely our logo. We are nearly completely out of cash. Both founders have to work 3–5 shifts a week at jobs we hate. And we lost our lawsuit against our first engineering company that charged us $30k to make something that didn’t work. Yet, we made leaps and bounds towards furthering our company to success, we met with incredible individuals, we added at least 100 new things to our never ending “to-do” list, we laugh every day, and all of this has happened with us striving to achieve our dreams with the perk of our dogs by our sides every step of the way.
3: I love every fucking stressful minute of it! I love this entrepreneurial life!
4: I started thinking about what got us here? Liz and myself have been friends for over a decade. That’s a real long time to still enjoy someone’s company without the perks of a relationship, if you know what I mean.
5: I think back to us meeting while working at the casinos in Deadwood South Dakota. She was telling a story to our other co-workers about getting blackout drunk and waking up on her bathroom floor, face down next to the toilet. I knew from that moment on, her and I were going to be best friends forever. Like Tom and Jerry or Batman and the Joker or the Roadrunner and Wile E Coyote… Best friends forever…
6: That summer I squatted on her and her now ex’s couch. Me and Shenanigan; my loyal Border Collie, were taking on the world by sleeping in my Honda Civic. And in between the two jobs, we’d adventure around the Black Hills during the days and party with friends during the nights. Liz caught wind of my sleeping situation and being the kind hearted soul she is, took me under her wing which is where the journey of Chelzabeth truly begins!
7: The fall of that same year, Liz and I decided to go on an ”adventure of a lifetime”! That summer, I blew up my knee allotting for my 9th knee surgery and Liz went through a nasty break up. We were ready for some adventure in our lives, some change, something different, some LIFE. So we pack up ourselves, the camping gear, loads of rice and dried beans and of course Shenanigan and Franklin; Liz’s Chowder-Collie and we hit the road!
8: 3 month story short, the first night a mountain lion ate a racoon 50 feet from our tent, immediately making us rethink the greatness of this adventure. We traveled through SD, NE, CO, AZ, NM, NV, CA, seeing the world as we never knew existed. After months of traveling, learning, seeing endless amounts of beauty, hiking new trails everyday, falling asleep under the stars nearly every night, burning so many campfires it was permanently stuck in our clothes. We headed back to South Dakota with a new profound hatred for each other!
9: To summarize the next 3 years quickly. We both slummed in our family’s spare rooms, we were working back in the casinos, we both saved enough to get our own places…ok, place, and became roommates again but in a whole house vs a car and tent. Towards the end of year 2, I decided to stop being a coward and fulfill a dream of moving to Colorado. I went to school and worked in the casinos, Liz stayed in SD until…
10: 2011, I left Colorado and she left South Dakota and we headed to the great state of North Dakota to work with a couple friends extracting the cable from between the old missile silos and scraping the copper. We learned to run backhoes, big tractors, cement saws and discovered what living in a true small town of 1200 people was like. It was a blast! You have to/get to make your own fun, which for us meant 4 wheelers, miniature motorcycles, bonfires, bingo and lots of drinking. Then September rolls in, we are 15 miles from Canada and 30 from Minnesota, I thought I knew what cold felt like. That was a cold I couldn’t imagine anyone could live through. So Liz and I packed our 6 months of gear, the dogs and ourselves in the Civic. We got a whopping 17 miles per gallon while heading back down south but we made it. I went back to Colorado and spent a month convincing her to move there as well. Success! She got her own apartment, joined the roller derby team, made subs in Boulder, delivered phone books on the weekend and loved the Colorado lifestyle.
11: (Read this as if you were the side-effect person at the end of a prescription drug commercial.) To summarize the next couple of years in supersonic speed… Colorado really allowed us to spread our wings! Over the next couple years, we both ended up back in the casinos dealing cards. We decided to be roommates again in a house not far from the apartments. We went through a slew of real bad and less bad relationships. And I randomly got the opportunity to buy the house we were renting. Woofta, take a breath.
12: Life was good. I now also had dog number two, a miniature Australian Shepherd named Leonidas whom Shenanigans absolutely adores. Liz was moving her way up the casino ladder, becoming Lead Table Games Supervisor. I ditch the casino life for brewery life and help open a brand spanking new taproom in Broomfield. A year or so after the brewery opened, I realized the brewery helped give me a new profound confidence to invest in myself. I decided to accomplish a life goal and got my real estate license. I don’t test so good,so this was a FEAT! I helped a handful of close friends buy homes, most of them for the first time and it felt great. Except I hated doing it. After casino hours Liz would help me organize and strategize how to get new clients, which we were terrible at and we made some in hindsight real obvious mistakes and poor money choices. BUT, no regrets because we learned a lot!
13: Since, real estate didn’t spark a passion for either of us. So we discussed a table game teaching school. We talked about starting a pet store. We discussed our dreams of creating non-for-profits and ways we can give back to this wonderful world. We became certified Arlo re-sellers and started a leasing program for doggy day cares, groomers and other pet industries that people would want to see what their dog is doing all day. We learned the places that believed the cameras had real value already had them installed and the ones that didn’t have cameras didn’t want people seeing what they were doing, because “something could be taken out of context.” …yikes.
14: Then we started thinking what would be helpful in our own lives, which lead us to the idea of a device we could place near the dogs, wherever they were, allowing us to know they weren’t too hot. We had first hand knowledge of the difficulties of traveling with the dogs, we couldn’t leave them in the car but they also didn’t have any other place to go. It was always a struggle going to the grocery store, or out to eat, or doing laundry. We thought, what about a mobile temperature monitor!? You get a notification when the temperature gets too hot for your specific dog. Woah, what a help that would have been! So we start developing. Going to accelerators, business groups, learning how to run a company, how to raise money and we start developing Pup Alert. Then we got the absolute most terrible news. Franklin was diagnosed with cancer, no treatment, just game over. We tried CBD, we tried raw foods, we tried every holistic approach we heard of. Nothing worked. December 3rd, 2016 Franklin, passed away. It completely shook our worlds. Devastated is the biggest understatement to describe how we felt yet is the only word that comes closest to the correct definition.
15: But we couldn’t quit, we couldn’t stop, we had to keep persevering. As our device came closer to being finished, the apps were also completing, hundreds of people had been talked to (and loved the idea), the website was up and running, our social media presence was increasing every day. We got this wild idea to sell everything, and hit the road again! But this time, in a RV, because we are grown-ups now. We wanted to not only talk with our target market, but also be completely immersed within their lifestyle. These people are traveling everywhere with their dogs and they worry about leaving them in the RV alone.
16: So we did it! We sold everything and hopped in an RV. It was the perfect fit. We were surrounded by the best supporters, people were happy for us but also sad to see us leave. Our families, friends and significant others were supportive, encouraging and were excited to travel to new places to visit us throughout the summer. We were excited to see the world again, we were excited to be traveling with a bigger purpose than just our own personal adventure. We left June 1st, with Shenanigan, Leonidas, the new runt in the pack, Remington Dellana Phileas Hound Dog, a rescue mutt from San Antonio, TX and moe, the cat, she’s a ginja ninja that’s been in the pack for 10 years, sorry I didn’t introduce her before.
17: We traveled from June 1st and returned to Denver August 14th, 2017. To start off with, we drastically underestimated the difficulty of RV living and the learning curve that comes with it. We learned about electricity, RV bathroom systems; how not to maintenance them, and parking like bad asses. We learned that California RV parks are expensive AF, Las Vegas is hot AF; even at night. Seattle and Portland were absolutely incredible cities, both of which we’d totally move to. We were lucky enough to see Montana before the fires and even adventure through the inspiring Disneyland in southern California! But by August we were so happy to get back to Denver, set some roots down for the company and get out of this crammed trailer.
18: We returned to Denver geared up to launch our first crowdfunding campaign. We had desk spaces at Galvanize. We were networking pros. Meeting people left and right. Getting tons of great advice and learning from experts. And on September 18th we closed our eyes and together clicked the “launch” button for our crowdfunding campaign, we watched and waited. An order came in, then another, and another! $800 in the first hour! Then nothing for 5 more hours… We added new goals the next day, and gained $3,000 more! Then nothing… Once again in hindsight, don’t market to baby boomers then expect them to back a Kickstarter campaign. We know, it’s obvious now. We finished our month long campaign meeting a whooping 11% of our goal!
19: After the campaign ended with little success, we chose to see this heartbreaking moment as a blessing in disguise. While at the same time learning we got completely fucked by our engineers. We concluded at the very least, the littlest, tiniest, silver lining was that since we missed our goal, we weren’t obligated to actually make any of these devices for anyone. Woohoo! But now what? We licked our wounds, put our tail between our legs and decided to stop chasing this psychotic entrepreneurial dream… NOT! (Because “not” jokes are on a comeback, you’ll see.)
20: Instead, we went and spent 16 days in Europe with an amazing group of friends! We drank beer, a lot of beer, at Oktoberfest in Munich. We awed at the mountains in Chamonix, France. We walked the world’s longest suspension bridge near Rhonda, Switzerland; well, Liz did, I value my life so I didn’t. But she did come back from the bridge, self-awakened with a new internal view of herself, her abilities and her own perseverance. (Ask her about it later, I’m sure she’d love to tell this in her words) We rode the train to Venice, Italy and fell in love with the peaceful city. We then went to Rome to be reminded of the realities of the hussle and bussle of the city while still being sprinkled with a strange calm of ancient history appearing on every MoPed riddled corner. We ran through Paris, briskly breathing in 6 monuments in 22 hours. It was an incredible experience to have with friends and loved ones. It truly became a trip of self-discovery I never would have imagined.
21: During the train, plane and automobile rides we had time to think, let our minds wander and doodle new ideas. We discussed the idea of, “what if, our interpretation of people’s confusion wasn’t a lack of us explaining the product poorly but instead was actually people telling us what they actually wanted out of a pet technology product?” We pulled our heads out of our asses, washed them up a bit, and put them together to actually start thinking about all the things we were told and the things we learned along the way. What did people say? They brought up wearables, notifications, multiple sensors not just temperature and use cases from within their own homes. Now there’s a thought, dogs spend hours home alone each day while their human is at work. I know I feel terrible every time I have to look at those sad pouty puppy eyes as I close the door behind me. I wish I could take them everywhere!
22: We started talking out real things from our current lives. I was regularly using the mobile temperature monitor prototype at my home in case of a fire (temperature drastically increasing) because I’m a paranoid twit. I also used a smart camera because sometimes (multiple times a day) I like to check on the dog’s well-being. I also previously used the Nest smoke detector for fire notifications, again because I’m a nervous twit. As well, I play music for the dogs because they bark at their own farts, and music is a nice, calming, noise deterrent. I couldn’t be the only one who’s a twit like this. And honestly, Liz wasn’t far behind in her home automation gadgets, she just went down Amazon route vs my Google route. Again Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd kind of friendship here.
23: So we started researching this whole home automation futuristic stuff. And we started thinking, well isn’t this cool, fun and interesting; as we curled our 1980’s, French, twist-mustaches. What if we could attach a small device to the dog’s collar, that triggered our speakers to play music and notified us when the dogs barked? The thermostat adjusted according to the dog’s body temperature. Maybe music played simply because you walked out the door and the dog is still home. The app gave you video updates in the event of emergencies. And you could automatically turn the lights on when it gets dark at 4pm in the winter. Hmmmmm, as we twirl our metaphorical-thinking-mustaches again. All the other collar attachments included GPS, but we didn’t want to go down the cellular route again, too expensive, bulky, short battery life and time consuming to develop. And all the other collar attachments also did health tracking, like a Fitbit. With our heads stuck together from the areas we missed while washing, we had a revolutionary thought. What if we ALSO included health and exercise tracking plus GPS tracking without the headaches of GPS! “Genius” we yelled as we high fived in midair.
24: From there, Pup Alert the smart collar attachment is born! But if you recall from the 2nd paragraph we lost our Trademark battle so now we aren’t allowed to use Pup Alert any more. So from here on out Pup-eeze has been officially birthed! The first of it’s kind, smart home-connecting collar attachment, that allows your dog to control your smart home devices through routines you setup in our super smart app. It connects your dog with the world’s largest Bluetooth tracking community, which allows the battery to last for over 6 months. In addition, we’ve included our completely unique, organic and original concept of health and exercise tracking for dogs! Woah, mind-blown particles everywhere! All the features will be subscription based so if you love one feature and hate the others, that’s fine, just pay for one. We are pricing our physical attachment well below our competitors prices with the intention of the subscriptions allowing you, our beloved followers, to customize and use what you actually want out of our product.
25:Alright, sales pitch aside, we really, truly, hope you love our product as much as we do. We really love our dogs, we really love helping ours and all other dogs be super happy and we really love this journey we’ve been on. This is our way of giving back the unconditional love that dogs give to us each and every day. There’s has been a lot of blood (literally, Liz bites her fingernails when she get stressed), sweat, and tons of tears pumped into this product and we want dogs to embark (ha) on this crazy technological adventure with us. And we hope Pup-eeze is the starting link to the chain of connectivity allowing us to all understand each other better and to be the absolute best versions of ourselves, together.