Those with pets also know that those furry friends can wreak havoc on your house.
While living in Charleston, Kevin Dixon grew weary of losing rental deposit after rental deposit because his dog Foster liked to claw at his door and door frame.
“There was nothing online that protected this particular area of the door and doorframe,” Dixon said.
He went to work developing a prototype with tools he procured from a local hardware store.
“I took a piece of cardboard and made a cutout to pop over the doorknob, and I went to Lowe’s and bought a piece of plexiglass and a drill and drill bit. And before I knew it, I was $250 in on a DIY project,” Dixon said.
But what Dixon discovered is that this part of the door is a problem area in many homes with dogs. So, he began to look at ways to get this product into the hands of many dog owners.
In the spring of 2009, Dixon cold-called a plastic manufacturing plant and gave them dimensions to create the first Clawguard door shield.
“They made me 10 for $200,” Dixon said. “I handed them out and bought 1,000 more.”
That spring, Dixon got packaging materials and a friend built Clawguard’s first website.
In a Holding Pattern
After Clawguard’s quick start, Dixon found himself in 2012 with 75 percent of his initial 1,000 purchase still sitting in his garage.
“We thought a website would solve everything,” Dixon said. “It didn’t.
“In the Spring of 2012, I’d only sold 25 percent. I put them on Amazon and Ebay and they started moving.”
Later that year, Dixon and his family moved to Charlotte and continued to use Amazon as a distributor with his family garage as his product warehouse.
“If it wasn’t for Amazon, I wouldn’t be in business,” Dixon said.
Since then, Clawguard has experienced 100 percent year-over-year growth.
Ready for Takeoff
In 2017, every product creator in the Charlotte area’s dream came true. The television show, Shark Tank, held auditions for its ninth season. Dixon applied and made it through four rounds of casting falling just one round short of going on television.
“Until then it had been a garage business,” Dixon said. “I’d hired two 10th graders to come over on Wednesday and Saturday to do fulfillment and customer service.”
After the Shark Tank experience, Dixon expanded operations and is now working distributing his products out of two warehouses, one in Rock Hill, S.C. and one in Crawfordsville, Indiana.
“In 2017 we partnered with several different [animal] rescues and shelters to give back,” Dixon said. “We made heavy investments to expand our portfolio.”
Clawguard’s product offering now includes furniture and carpet protectors and enhanced door shields.
Customers can purchase Clawguard products online through Chewy.com, Amazon, Zulily, and Wayfair, and in 24 brick and mortar stores like Pet Supplies Plus.
Right now the Clawguard team exists of Dixon, a marketing manager, a content writer, and a graphic artist.
“It’s taken so long to get to where we are,” Dixon said. “The reason we are where we are is because of the mistakes we made along the way and how we had to pivot. Moving from my garage to a warehouse and distribution center was hard. It was my baby.”
Ten years later, Clawguard remains Dixon’s creative business venture. He’s dedicated to his full-time role in medical sales, but Clawguard’s success is making him think seriously about his future.
“I love healthcare and how Clawguard compliments the wellbeing of pets and pet parents,” Dixon said. “As the business grows, we will need to consider hiring for new roles.”
And Clawguard is looking to change its market strategy.
“What’s fascinating from an entrepreneur standpoint is, we’ve been marketing to the pet industry hard for over three years,” Dixon said. “But what we’ve slowly been learning is that we might not be a pet company. We might be a hardware company. Our next step is to pivot and try something new.”