This is where the story starts getting good. After I had the idea and the prototype, it was time to see if this business proposition had any weight in the real world. I knew that I had a need for a space-saving, secure kennel, but did anyone else feel the same way?
When I worked with my engineer friend on the prototypes of the kennel, we focused on making a crate that could fold into something easy to carry and transport. Inspired by the original small apartment life hack — the Murphy bed — the vision for the Home and Travel (HAT) dog crate was born. Our product could easily attach to a wall, but it could also fold up to slide under a bed or into a closet. In its collapsed form, it was only 6 inches wide and weighed only 15 lbs. It had no clunky metal bars to line up into holes and it could be assembled in less than 30 seconds!
With what I felt was truly a great product, I entered my first pitching competition, the preliminary round of an undergraduate entrepreneurship program at Mizzou. Here, Heidi and I (of course I had to bring her with me) took on the first real public speaking event of my entire life. We had three minutes to convince the judges we deserved a spot in the top 10.
I was incredibly nervous, but having Heidi by my side the entire time definitely helped give me the confidence I needed. In the end, we won the fan favorite award, but I’m pretty sure she gets all the credit for that! The judges and audience saw the need for our product and Murray Kennel Co. was admitted into the 8-week entrepreneurial course.
It was an incredible feeling to know that other people were as excited about the HAT dog crate as I was and I couldn’t wait to learn more about how I could take this business and product to the next level.