Pillion Pooch Ltd
Name: Janell Clarke
Location: Warwickshire, United Kingdom
Safely carrying small to medium sized dogs on a motorcycle with protection from the elements and in the event of a fall.
What products/services do you offer?
Why did you start your business and how long have you been running it?
My husband and I wanted to travel the world on motorbikes with our dog from Australia but a product didn’t exists in the market that met our requirements so we developed our own carrier in 2013. We received a lot of support and encouragement from other bikers we met on our travels who also had dogs and would like to be able to ride with them. This gave us the idea to share our Pillion Pooch with the world. We started selling units in 2018. Its a small business but we are slowly growing and reaching people all over the world.
What struggles do you think most businesses face in your industry and what would you say they need to do to overcome them?
We aren’t prepared to compromise safety and quality of the product for a cheaper price. We definitely lose a lot of customers who don’t want to spend £599 on their dog. We’ve been networking with complementary products such as eye protection for biker dogs and its the same story, the owner indicates prices are too high. People are often willing to spend the money on their own safety but necessarily see the value in spending equivalent on their dog.
What has been your greatest accomplishment?
We have sold units to 8 countries: USA, Australia, Japan, UK, Canada, France, Netherlands, Sweden.
What has been your biggest ‘fail’ so far?
We had a manufacturer in Northern Ireland make the covers for the first batch of Pillion Poochs. There was clearly no quality control the majority of the batch didn’t fit the frame. The company denied the issue and wouldn’t do anything to rectify the problems so we had to send out our first batch with these awful covers, promising the customers that we would send out new covers but they could at least start getting their dogs familiar with riding. We can only afford to produce in very small quantities which makes it very difficult for us to find businesses willing to manufacturer at reasonable prices and fit us in to their schedule. We will hopefully be sending out the new covers (at our cost) to these customers in the coming weeks.
What do you love most about your business?
Nearly every customer who has bought a Pillion Pooch sends us photo’s, video’s and feedback of their dogs riding. They all seem so happy and grateful that they are finally able to get out on their bikes without the guilt of leaving their four legged friends at home. As a dog lover this always makes me very happy to see.
What do you find most challenging?
Finding businesses/manufacturers that can take an interest in what we do and work with us. When we do find a good one they are excellent and go above and beyond to help. Others take us for a bit of a ride, lead us on and then don’t deliver or put us very low on the priority list.
How do you promote your business (please include as many details as you can)?
We have a website and social media sites for our product but also for our travels as we are still journeying around the world on motorbikes with our dogs. We’ve run a few google campaigns and facebook campaigns targeting people who own dogs and motorcycles. At the moment our minimal marketing has been sufficient because we are producing in small quantities.
What business skills do you have (eg. graphic design, customer service)?
My husband and I are both engineers with years of project management and problem solving skills and experience. Stu is a programmer, he developed and maintains our website and social media pages. He is also an experience CAD drawer. For the Pillion Pooch however, we have 6 years of extreme riding with our dogs to research and develop the product.
What business skills would you like to improve on?
Social media requires constant attention and keeping up to late with the latest trends. I haven’t figured out how best to create content that is current and engaging.
What software did you/your designer use to create your website (eg. WordPress, Wix)?
What are some of your favourite business tools and apps?
Receipt Bank, Xero, Viva Video Pro, Final Cut Pro, Google suite of online office programs, Canva, Watermark, Free CAD, Transferwise.
What do you like about your website?
It’s very simple and represents who we are.
What would you like to improve on your website?
Testimonials and customer feedback/reviews, more customer photo’s and video’s.
What lessons have you learnt during your time as an entrepreneur?
Starting a small business from scratch can take longer than you expect but just be patient and don’t give up if what you are doing is something you really believe in.
What key tips for success in business would you like to share with others?
Try to work with or connect with other businesses who can value what you do and have good communication.
What is the one thing that you want everyone to take away from this post?
My husband and I have become very passionate about breaking down the barriers of pet travel and it would be great to see more businesses supporting this goal whether is locally or globally.