Interview with Pooch Selfie Founder Jason Hernandez
Jason Hernandez graduated from Sacramento State University with a BS in Mechanical Engineering. He has spent 14 years in the consumer electronics
industry promoting the sales of raw materials into highly technical end-user applications. Jason had a passion for pets and product development. Through his career and experience, he was able to identify resources available to him in which to start his own venture and passion project. In 2014, Jason started his own company under the brand name Pooch Selfie. Pooch Selfie is the first of its kind smartphone accessory which helps dog owners take better pictures and selfies with their pets. In 2015, Jason submitted his passion project to the crowdfunding website Kickstarter in hopes to bring the product to life. At the end of the campaign, Pooch Selfie had raised enough backers to successfully exceed its funding goal by almost 7x. The product was then brought to life and experienced 3 years of growth before appearing on ABC’s Shark Tank. Jason was able to share his love for pets and the company he built which caught the eye of Daymond John. Pooch Selfie landed a deal with Daymond and with the help of his newly partnered shark, has been working to make Pooch Selfie a household name in the pet community.
1. What is Pooch Selfie?
Pooch Selfie is a smartphone accessory which changes the way dog lovers take pictures and selfies with their pets. Using your dog’s natural draw and focus to a squeaky tennis ball and our patented smartphone clip, users can hold their dog’s attention while they capture the best photos of their dog. The product works because your dog is focused on the tennis ball which is also at your smartphone’s camera.
2. How did you come up with the idea of Pooch Selfie?
Pooch Selfie is truly a backyard invention. I thought of the idea when I noticed my wife having a hard time getting our dog Logan to take a selfie with her. At that time I jumped in and grabbed a tennis ball, which I knew Logan was mesmerized by. I hovered over her phone while she caught an Instagram worthy selfie with Logan. I thought to myself, what if I was not here to help. How could my wife accomplish the same quality of picture? That’s when the idea for Pooch Selfie came to life.
3. What obstacles did you have to overcome to get to where you are today?
Because my product design is so simple and effective, it has also been very easy to copy. The largest obstacle to overcome was to turn Pooch Selfie into a brand name for my product all while trying to fight domestic and offshore product infringers. I learned that a patent that protects your product idea is only as useful as you are willing to spend money to protect it.
4. What makes you different from your competitors?
I invented the market space and category for this product. Nothing else existed before I invented Pooch Selfie. Since then several companies have tried to generate their own versions as copycat items, but at the end of the day, the trademark brand name is what people have recognized. Today when you search for a pet selfie product, Pooch Selfie has distinguished itself as the brand name to search for in the way consumers recognize Kleenex as the name of tissues. Building a solid brand name has helped me keep ahead of competitors.
5. How did your experience on Shark Tank help you and your company?
The exposure that any company gets from Shark Tank is huge. The airing of our episode catapulted Pooch Selfie into a household name. We had a record-breaking month of sales when we aired and the feedback from those customers was phenomenal. Since landing a deal with Daymond John, we have been introduced to large customers which we have only dreamed about getting into. 2020 will be our best year as customers will find Pooch Selfie in more retail partners than ever.
6. What advice would you give to young budding entrepreneurs
The absolute best advice I can give to any entrepreneur is to be patient, persevere, and execute. The road to creating anything new is long. It is impossible to know everything that needs to be done to achieve your goals. You must have the skill of being able to learn what you don’t know today. Lean into your strengths and recognize your deficiencies. Find resources to fill those deficient skills until you can learn them yourself. To this day I am still learning things I don’t know and I don’t believe that will ever end. Ideas are common and frequent. Everyone has them. What separates someone with an idea to someone who can bring that idea to life is execution. A true entrepreneur creates his/her own destiny so they never find themselves saying “I had an idea once.”
We would like to thank Jason for speaking with us.
Jake Russell is the owner and founder of A Nibble of Business. Since its creation in 2015 it has been funded and operated solely by him. Jake is currently running the website along with being a student. View all posts by jakerussell