YouTube is big on clips of puppies riding skateboards, but less bullish about video producers infusing outside advertising into their uploads. One product design company, however, has managed to skirt that guideline while turning their doggie videos into $750,000 worth of
pre-orders for an unlikely product.
Their creation is the?Orapup, which looks like a hairbrush with a kink in the handle. Instead of running it through your hair, its bristles get coated with a FDA-cleared, meat-flavored liquid that your dog licks, pulling foul-smelling bacteria off its tongue. While not a?glamorous?gadget, it raised a solid, if?uninspiring,?$62,572?on Indiegogo?late last year.
Orabrush,?the small, Utah-based company?that invented the Orapup knew they could do better.?They?ve sold over 3 million of their flagship human tongue cleaners since launching in 2009, largely by mastering YouTube marketing.?Their videos?have garnered over 40,000,000 views (more than?Apple) and led to a commercial presence in 15 countries, 75 retail partnerships, and availability in over 30,000 stores. Orabrush is a blockbuster success, but its inventors wanted to produce a sequel.
?We don?t think of ourselves as an a oral care company,? says Orabrush CEO Jeff Davis, but instead a ?new media e-commerce brand builder that leverages expertise in YouTube content creation, optimization, and advertising to commercialize innovative products.?
Put more?succinctly, Davis thinks his company has the potential to make infomercials popular on YouTube.?Some might look down on long form commercials, but for designers eager to conquer the worlds of manufacturing and retail they offer a?$91 billion dollar?market and a means of differentiation.
Orapup first found success by using YouTube like a focus group. ?We got the idea from our community,? says Davis. ?Several of our YouTube subscribers said we should make an Orabrush for our dogs. Our beloved 78-year old founder started playing around with the idea. One Saturday, he drove up to my house with prototypes and my dog Lilly just started licking it.?
The prototype worked?perfectly,?but Davis wanted to be sure there was real demand before going to production. ?If you want to test passion of your audience there?s no better way than crowdfunding,? says Davis. Most companies would have taken the funding as a win, but Davis and his team knew there was an opportunity to improve the results.
As soon as the Indiegogo campaign concluded, they set up a landing page and started booking pre-orders through Amazon. New videos were created and tested, copy and pricing were tweaked, packaging was developed, and ultimately $750,000 in pre-orders were collected. When the Indiegogo campaign ended, the project only had 2,816 backers, but by the time the first product shipped last week, there were over 40,000 orders from Amazon on the books.
The project has also helped to establish their new pet-focused brand. They?ve racked up 4 million views on YouTube, which is far short of PSY, but much higher than better-known,
billion-dollar brands like Iams, Pedigree and Purina.
The Orabrush team has also had to get creative with their manufacturing. Davis has run
billion-dollar divisions of global?conglomerates?with integrated supply chains and the company has produced millions of Orabrushes, but they?ve still faced?factory setbacks. The Chinese manufacturer they selected was having trouble molding the critical microbristles and couldn?t properly mold the logo into the handle.
This hiccup spurred the team to evaluate the entire overseas production model.?Producing the product in China, shipping it to the U.S., and then getting it to the retailers is a long cash cycle,? says Davis. ?There are also negative rumors in the pet industry about having things manufactured outside the U.S.? Despite manufacturing in Utah costing 5 to 10 percent more in Utah, Davis and his team decided to contract with a local factory.
With two successful projects, the idea of creating a trilogy becomes possible. Davis has no desire to be an agency and would like to transition out of the manufacturing business, instead preferring to strike deals with inventors and researchers to develop goods.??We?ve been contacted by over 100 companies and inventors, mostly frustrated?entrepreneurs who can?t get eyeballs on their products,? says Davis. ?There are at least 10 products we?re looking at.?
Based on the early success, Davis believes Orapup could end up being five times the size of Orabrush. With the popularity of dog videos on the internet, it seems believable.