When eight-year-old Porter Hinrichs found out his Golden Doodle Auggie had food sensitivities to many store-bought treats, he wanted to do something to help. So he and his mom Melissa found a recipe online to make grain-free, organic dog treats. He set up a stand outside his house and sold them to neighbors and friends. Today, Porter’s Pup Treats has blossomed into a full business, complete with regular customers, a web site, and a priceless education in being an entrepreneur.
Edge: How did you go from having a dog treat stand at home to turning it into an actual business?
Porter: After helping Auggie, I wanted to help other dogs be healthier.
Melissa: Porter was actually afraid of dogs when he was little, but now he absolutely loves all dogs.
Edge: How did you decide which recipe to make?
Porter: We tried a few different recipes and had Auggie try them to see if he liked them. He really liked the one made with pumpkin, but he didn’t like the banana blueberry. He’s my official taste tester now.
Edge: What are the ingredients you use in your treats?
Porter: It’s all organic ingredients: coconut flour, coconut oil, pumpkin, peanut butter, and cage-free eggs. When you mix the peanut butter with the pumpkin it kind of smells, but dogs really like it.
Edge: How have you gone about finding customers?
Melissa: Mostly word of mouth, but we’ve gone into a few doggie day cares and we’ve done the Children’s Business Fair through Acton Academy. He was really able to improve his business from the local entrepreneurs who served as judges for the business fair. We’ve also talked about trying the local farmers markets too. Eventually we’d like to get to a subscription base.
Porter: Butters and Chef are two of my customers who like to get their treats delivered every two weeks.
Edge: How often do you make the treats?
Porter: I make fresh treats every other week and would like to increase business so I’m making them weekly. Now that I have a web site I need to sell three bags of treats every month in order to pay the $10.00 web site fee.
Edge: How do you keep track of all your expenses and sales?
Porter: I write it all down and then give my mom the information and she enters it into her Mac Book.
Edge: Have you thought about making treats for cats?
Porter: I haven’t tried making cat treats yet, but I’m open to new things.
Edge: What business challenges do you face?
Melissa: Right now it’s a boutique business. To grow, he’d have to be able to make more treats, so production is the biggest issue. We’re investigating larger commercial molds that can cut up to 54 treats at a time instead of the individual bone-shaped cookie cutters.
Edge: How has this business helped Porter?
Melissa: He’s really been able to explore his talents and he’s learning that you must constantly grow and come up with new ways to think about things. He’s also found a real passion for dogs and how we help them be happy and healthy. Plus, he’s won some awards: 2018: Best presentation and creativity, 2019: local Shark Tank winner and 2019: Beat Business Potential.
Edge: Now that you’ve been doing this for two years, what are your goals?
Porter: I want to try new flavors of treats and have more regular customers.
Edge: Do you have a few customers who are your favorite?
Porter: ALL of the dogs are my favorite!
For more information and to place an order, visit www.porterspuptreats.com.