For Dylan Balsz and Tilden Smith, launching a successful pet business while undergrads at Chapman University in Orange, Calif., was a walk in the park … without the walk or, well, the park.
The co-CEOs of International Pet Solutions are thriving with a product calledPetLawn, billed as an “indoor outhouse for pets.” It’s exactly that: a 20-by-30-inch patch of antimicrobial, odor-fighting artificial grass, lined with absorbent pads and equipped with waste bags–all so your dog can do his business without leaving the house.
The “aha” moment, Balsz says, came when his family downsized from a house to an apartment. He found himself experimenting with homemade drainage systems in hopes of improving his dog’s sanitary needs sans a private lawn.
As a sophomore in 2010, he teamed up with classmate Smith to try to craft a viable business. Pooling money from friends and family members, as well as Balsz’s savings from before college (a true entrepreneur, he operated an online medical equipment business while in high school), the pair launched their company in January 2011.
While orders starting trickling in through word-of-mouth, PetLawn really picked up steam when it debuted at the SuperZoo trade show in September, attracting the attention of some of its first distributors: midsize chain pet stores in Southern California.