*Interviewee: Tobi Skovron (T)
*Interviewer: Amanda Gome (A)
A: Have you got a pet, live in an apartment and have the same problems as
everybody else, the toilet for the dog? You’re going to love this next story about how
this entrepreneur, Tobi Skovron, started his own business, Pup Pee Solutions. Tobi,
who’s only 26, has used a very clever PR and marketing campaign to build the profile
of this company which is now going international and he’s on track to turn over
$5,000,000 this year. You got your first big break when you went on The Inventors.
Can you tell us about our journey? What happened?
T: Yeas, sure. Basically I filled out an application form. I got spurred along by
family and friends to basically make an application to the New Inventors. Leading up
to the New Inventors ... we got onto the show. Leading up to it we basically employed
the services of a PR agency which helped us drive traffic to the show that night and
then basically the net effect of that was everyone wanted to interview or do a piece or
do some sort of program on us from that ... from that event.
A: It was very expensive to hire a PR firm first off. Was the cost worth the
benefit in the long run?
T: Well, I just believe that the success to business is really keeping to what you
know and everything outside of that you need to seek professional advice and we've
done that all the way through and we will continue to do that.
A: So what did your PR company cost?
T: Okay. It cost us $3000 a month and we had to sign up for a three-month
campaign. It has gotten more expensive each campaign we’ve done and that's because
we’re pushing for more and we want more. We want a better return. That ... that’s
pretty much where we started, but the benefits and the results that we’ve had from that
have been just sig ... you know ...
A: Now you’ve come up with a really catchy name and a very strong branding.
Was that part of your strat ... marketing strategy from the start?
T: Absolutely. I really wanted to call it Doggy Dunny or have an Australian
swing on it or the outhouse or something to that effect. But when I looked at it, I
realised the potential this product on a global scale. What does dunny mean in other
countries? What does outhouse mean in other countries? We really had to come up
with a name that suited a blanket category and that’s where the Pet Loo really
simplifies exactly what that is. The Pet Loo is ... while it’s right here right now, is for
dogs specific to where it all came from. The Pet Loo really leads itself, or the name
leads itself to other categories like cat, rabbit, guinea pigs, so on and so forth.
A: Right. How important was it to do a marketing plan? Did you have somebody
in-house on that or ..?
T: Yeah, absolutely. Like I said, our strategy’s always been keep to what you
know and everything else outsource. Whether or not that’s the right way to go and I
don’t use it so loosely, but certainly we have people that are experts in certain fields,
whether it be in plastic materials or whether it be in branding specifically. But I’ll
come in and say I want to do this, this, this and this, and they’ll laugh at me and say
okay, I kind of know where you're at. Let me put something together for you and the
rest is really built from there.
A: What mistakes have you made in that ... just in the branding?
T: I would like to think that we’ve made very little mistake to be honest with you,
and that’s been a strategy of ours. I’ve gone to people that have been experienced,
have knowledge, have been there and done that in all categories whether it be from
the legal point of view, whether it be from international point of view, international
business, wholesaling, manufacturing, whatever the case may be. And I’ve basically
built a team of core people that are what I deem as my board and I go to my board
every single time I want to kind of throw something out there. Being that I am young,
while I have all the drive and energy, I think it’s raw energy and with having the
board onboard, I can channel that energy into a productive result. So these guys I
basically go to every time. There have been a few mistakes here and there. There have
been things that haven’t been executed a 100 percent. But generally speaking, I think
that the success of where we’re at is because I know where I am at as a professional
and I seek the help and assistance of those people that have been there and have done
it before me.
A: With your marketing, did you actually develop a marketing plan as distinct
from your business plan?
T: Yeah. We have a ... what I call a business plan versus strategic plan. When we
first set-up this co ... this company we ... we had ... we wanted to get every single pet
retailer in the country stocking and selling our products. But it’s one thing to sit
yourself up there and say right, we want to do this. It’s a matter of how you go about
doing it. So we went and enrolled ourselves in the body of ... of the industry, so the
Pet Industry Association of Australia. We became members. We ... we basically
networked ourselves through their events, some of their marketing programs and
whatnot and have built a name for ourselves within the industry. Pet Loo specifically
won Australian Pet Product of the Year at the 2006 Annual Trade Show. Were setting
ourselves up in multiple ... mul ... multiple tier of distribution at the moment so our
main core range of products right here right now, is Pet Loo. We have 16 new lines
which are coming out this year which are specific to pet, but maybe not specific to pet
stores. They might be more prominent in furniture retailer outlets or other sorts of
channels of distributions, maybe a supermarket some ... some ... something to that
degree. So we’re it the process of now taking what we’ve done in the pet industry and
rolling it out through ... through other tiers of distribution as well.
End of recording