Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in dog care, but not sure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Alain Courchesne, president and founder of Doggy Bathroom, from Montreal, Canada. Alain is in the field of interior design.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

The Doggy Bathroom is an indoor potty solution for small dogs, including males who lift their legs. Coming from a design background, I knew that the product needed to be simple, efficient, and sleek. Our product is easy to use with a carefully designed system that lets dog owners pee pads in seconds with just their fingertips. The Doggy Bathroom keeps floors and walls protected by keeping everything contained in a tiny space. We also designated a mat for extra protection at the doorstep of the Doggy Bathroom. The Doggy Bathroom’s design and sharp lines offer cutting-edge, modern style for any home, condo, office, or hotel room. Since our launch, we have expanded our line of products to pick-up bags, pee pad holders, and dog towels.

All our products are made with recyclable and compostable components, all packaged using minimal materials. The Doggy Bathroom is proudly Made in Canada to support our local economy and minimize carbon emissions. Our primary customers are toy breed dog owners who live in high-rise buildings, puppy owners who are potty training their pups, and seasonal users who need it for their small breeds that cannot withstand extreme weather. As our customer base grew, we started learning of other pet owners who had found other creative uses for the Doggy Bathroom beyond its original intent, including cats with limited mobility and as a whelping box for kittens, even some Juliana pigs.

Tell us about yourself

I first designed the Doggy Bathroom for my adopted Italian Greyhound, Sterling. Sterling was the inspiration behind the Doggy Bathroom because, as a toy breed, he struggled with going out multiple times a day during the cold winter for potty breaks. As he developed into a teenager, he started to lift his leg when using his pee pads, which created a mess. This, in turn, made him feel upset and broke his confidence. Watching my puppy feel this way hurt me, which led me to design the Doggy Bathroom. Sterling played an essential part in creating the product as he was the heart and soul of the testing and development team at the head office in Montreal. Every day, I get to read positive reviews and stories from customers worldwide on how the Doggy Bathroom has made dog ownership better for them and has improved the overall wellbeing of their pets.

The Doggy Bathroom has given dogs more independence and has encouraged more people to incorporate dogs into their lives. The main reason people don’t own dogs is because of their potty needs. It is so enriching knowing that this product is changing the lives of pets and owners worldwide. This knowledge continues to build my passion for the company and motivates me every day.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

This past year, I proudly succeeded in moving our products to a local manufacturer right in the heart of Montreal. Our products have always been designed in Montreal; we eventually hoped to produce the Doggy Bathroom units in a Canadian factory. However, the correct startup cost of the molds prevented me from starting in Canada, which is why my journey started in China. After selling the first 2000 Doggy Bathrooms, I was able to relocate the production to our hometown, Montreal, Canada.

The Doggy Bathroom is created using three plastic injection molds. When I first started the business, I contacted several factories and manufacturers that specialized in mold creations but quickly learned that many mold producers located in Canada would outsource the work to other factories in Asia when creating the mold due to the high cost. As this method did not seem efficient or sustainable, I went to Asia to find the most appropriate manufacturer to provide high-quality molds and our first production. As I hoped to bring the molds to Canada and produce them locally eventually, I negotiated a deal that allowed me to do just that. In March of 2020, COVID-19 was impacting local businesses and the economy in significant ways. I knew it was time to bring the molds to Canada. It was heartbreaking knowing that companies were struggling to stay afloat due to decreased demand for goods. As I knew we were in a position where we could help support local manufacturers, I wanted us to do our part and move the production of the Doggy Bathroom to Canada. After speaking with multiple factories in Montreal, we finally decided on one. Although the production cost would be slightly higher than the price per unit we were paying in China, the benefits of supporting local business owners, employees, and the environment outweighed the financial burdens. Even though we had resistance from the factory in China, we successfully moved our manufacturing to Canada after five months of back-and-forth communication with the Chinese producers. Since October 2020, we have successfully been Canadian-made and have taken endless pride in this accomplishment.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

The biggest challenge I face as a business owner is being my boss. As it turns out, I expect a lot more from myself than I do from anyone else. I am often faced with new tasks, which keeps me challenged (and interested). As Doggy Bathroom continues to grow, I sometimes forget that the big decisions are mine to take, so I have to nudge myself and remind myself to make those decisions. As my boss, I need to figure out what will benefit the company before creating the tasks and handing them to my team.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Stay Focused: It's essential to prioritize your tasks and stay committed to your mission statement.
  2. Build a Team: It is essential to have a team of talented people who are driven and passionate about what they do to help move the business forward.
  3. Be patient: Rome wasn't built in a day.

Where can people find you and your business?

Doggy Bathroom
The Doggy Bathroom is the only indoor potty solution for small breeds, including males who lift their leg. Its cozy environment makes dogs feel safe and secure, all while offering visual privacy for pets and parents alike. Doggies can independently use their bathroom when they naturally need to – an…

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