ZuGo Pet Before Shark Tank
Zugo Pet was launched by Juls Bindi and Carolyn Shewfelt. They specialize in safety harnesses but also sell carriers, carry-on bags, collars, and treats for small pups.
In 2015, they launched an IndieGoGo campaign to help raise funds for the business with the promise that a portion of each sale will go toward saving the lives of shelter animals. While they didn’t meet their goal of $100,000, they did raise more than $14,440 with the help of 80 backers.
Later that same year, they launched a Kickstarter campaign that raised another $11,440. However, the crowdfunding campaigns weren’t for the safety harnesses that they’re known for today. Rather, they were for their “Jetsetter” airline carrier dog bags.
It wasn’t until several months later that they decided to introduce a patented harness system. Working together, they eventually began to market the product under the Zugo Pet brand. While some animal rights groups aren’t a fan of the harness, the product itself has been certified safe by veterinarians.
Hoping to get some mentorship for the business, they decided to try out for Shark Tank. And after several weeks of auditions, they finally received the call that they would be featured in the tenth season.
ZuGo Pet on Shark Tank
Carolyn and Juls walk into the tank with a small dog in each of their arms. They introduce themselves and their “spokespooches”, Bentley and Zugo, to the sharks and let them know they’re looking for $100,000 in exchange for 10 percent of their company Zugo Pet.
Carolyn begins their pitch by saying they’re revolutionizing the way pets travel. Juls adds that as pet lovers, they love taking their pups with them wherever they go but points out the dangers of having them on your lap, loose in the back seat, or in an unsecured carrier or crate. She then turns their attention to the screen, which shows various products failing a crash test.
Carolyn says they are passionate about pet safety, which is why they created Zugo Pet. Walking over to their display, she pulls down the curtain to reveal their product, the Rocketeer Pack, which is modeled by three small puppies on a screen. All of the sharks immediately burst out into laughter.
Juls admits the product may look silly but reassures them that it works. Still, the sharks are still howling with laughter. Talking over their laughs, she explains that the Rocketeer Pack “is the only way to go”. Before she can continue, however, Lori says she can’t hear them over the laughing hyenas.
Robert, who is still laughing, wipes away tears from his eyes and says “there’s no way” it’s a thing.
Juls once again reassures them that it works despite the silly appearance. She also offers to demonstrate how it works in front of the sharks.
Turning toward the demo car seat, Carolyn carefully attaches the pup to the Rocketeer Pack via the harness that she’s wearing and fastens a belt over the pup’s body. Kevin and Robert laugh at the demonstration with the former saying they’re “velcroing the dog to the seat.”
Jul explains that the velcro helps hold the dog in place and that there is also a center buckle to secure the shoulders. Kevin is skeptical about the product and questions whether or not the dog actually likes it due to the awkward position.
Mark says it’s better than the alternative but Kevin argues that dogs like to stick their heads out the windows.
Carolyn finishes buckling the dog to the car seat and Juls points out that the dog is suspended a couple of inches from the seat to protect the spine. She also emphasizes that he’s comfortable and safe.
Lori asks whether or not the pup is scared in the car seat as he’s noticeably shaking in front of the camera. They admit that he’s nervous. Seconds later, another crash test video is played on the screen- this time with their harness. Unlike the previous products, however, the Rocketeer Pack securely holds the dog in place through the crash. Carolyn also adds that their product passed the test with perfect scores.
Gesturing toward Juls, who now has the dog attached to her front, Carolyn tells them the product also comes with front and backpack attachments so that them and their pooch can travel together once they’ve reached their destination. Daymond says he likes the idea while Lori compares it to a baby carrier.
Kevin asks whether or not there are other products that offer the same functionality. Juls tells them the Rocketeer Pack is unique and that they have a patent on the product. Kevin is skeptical as he’s seen people strap their dogs to their chests while biking.
Carolyn says yes but points out that the other products are not crash test approved.
Mark asks about the cost of the product. Juls tells them the Rocketeer Pack retails for $160, which surprises everyone. Mark notes it’s expensive and asks about their manufacturing costs. Juls tells him it costs $36 to make. Lori immediately says they have a huge margin. Juls nods.
Mark goes on to ask about their sales. Juls says their sales are currently at $180,000 and that they had just officially launched in November.
Mark follows up by asking where they’re selling the product. Juls tells him it’s currently only available on their website. Asked how they get their traffic, she explains that it’s all organic and from word of mouth.
Lori asks how they came up with the product.
Carolyn tells her she’s the one who came up with the product and that she currently holds the utility patent for it. Continuing, she says she originally wanted to make the harness as she has a dog with hip and knee injuries, who she wanted to travel with safely but was unable to find anything on the market.
Juls tells the sharks she’s the one who licensed the product off of Carolyn and that she really believes in the business.
Lori asks how much money she’s put into Carolyn’s company. Juls says she’s put in $200,000, which seems to surprise everyone.
Robert asks what they put the money into. Juls says they put the funds into crash tests and production and that they currently have $200,000 worth of inventory. Daymond doesn’t seem too pleased.
Lori asks who is responsible for the day-in and day-out of the business and Juls says she does. Asked what Carolyn does, she says she takes care of all the fulfillment in her garage. Lori is surprised at the fact.
Mark asks Carolyn whether or not she knows how many dogs are killed each year in car crashes. While Carolyn does not know the number, she points out that in the United Kingdom, if you are in an accident and your dog is unsecured, it voids your auto insurance.
Before she can continue explaining, Mark asks whether or not they sell the product in the UK.
Carolyn and Juls tell him they do- that the Rocketeer Pack is actually available in 40 different countries. While Robert and some of the other sharks remain skeptical, Juls reassures them by saying that they’re the third company to have passed the crash test. She also points out that it’s a $80 billion industry.
Robert says he has twins at home and that he’s all for simplifying things; that he’s not a fan of products that takes time to use. However, Juls fights back by saying that he is willing to do it for his children and asks what’s the difference between that and pets.
Robert says “there’s no way in the world” that he would use the Rocketeer Pack as it takes way too long. Despite Juls’ best efforts to defend the product, he ultimately goes out.
Kevin speaks next; he says it’s still too early for the business and that it’s not worth investing in yet. He also goes out.
Their attention then turns toward Lori, who says she loves products that make loved ones safer. However, she feels that the Rocketeer Pack looks “too complicated” and suggests they go back to the drawing board and come up with something simpler to use. Noting that “it’s just not ready yet,” she also goes out.
Daymond tells Carolyn and Juls that he’s a big animal fan and that he loves fighting for them. He admits he didn’t know the dangers he was putting his pets in by putting them in the car unsecured and thanks them for educating him on the subject. Like the other sharks, however, he feels they still haven’t gotten the product “all worked out yet” and that it’s still a little early. He also goes out. Juls thanks him for his time.
Mark decides to tell them about the issues that they have. He says their marketing “isn’t very good” as it’s not addressing the actual problem; that they haven’t done anything to convince potential buyers that it will protect their dogs from dying in accidents.
Juls says they have searched and that there are no statistics about dogs dying in vehicle crashes anywhere. Mark tells them to invent some numbers if there are no numbers and says they should be selling on fear instead of cute, which is what they’re doing now.
He tells them they would have to take their marketing to a whole new level before he would even begin to consider investing and for that reason, goes out.
Carolyn and Juls thanks everyone for their time before exiting the tank with their pups. In the exit interview, Juls expresses her disappointment about not landing a deal but is optimistic as the sharks gave them excellent advice for the business.
Zugo Pet Now in 2023 – The After Shark Tank Update
Their business continued to grow despite the fact that they didn’t land a deal. The “Shark Tank Effect” also gave their website a boost in traffic, a portion of which resulted in sales.
As of 2023, Zugo Pet is still in business. However, their Rocketeer Pack is currently sold out on their website. Their ZuGoPet Dog Harness is also sold out. Seeing as how they had $200,000 worth of inventory when they were on the show, they probably sold hundreds of units after the episode aired.
In terms of whether or not they will be restocking the product, they probably will sometime in the future. For one thing, their Instagram page says they will be “relaunching soon.” Our best guess is that they’re currently working on funding to produce the next batch of harnesses.
However, their Jetsetter Premium Car Seat and Airport Compliant Pet Carrier, which features a detachable interior dog walking leash that secures the pup to the carrier, is still available on their website. Reviews have been positive as well, with many customers praising the carrier for its ease of use and comfort.
There are two sizes to choose from as well- 16 and 20 inches. The bag is also available in two colors: grey and black. The 16-inch version retails for $199 while the 20-inch version retails for $229. At the time of writing this post, however, it’s on sale for $109 and $119 respectively. They currently offer free domestic shipping in the U.S. as well as worldwide shipping.
They also have a plush matching blanket, which can be used with the Jetsetter Premium Car Seat, available for $29 (marked down from $59.99).
For those who are interested, you can check out their website at zugopet.com.