I started an all natural dog cupcake business w/ my sis that gained popularity fast, but we don't know what the best business model is for us to grow?

We have been wholesaling them out locally and selling them through our website. However, we are limited in this regard because we can only sell locally on our website. This is because they must be refrigerated so they cannot be shipped unless we overnight the cupcakes and obviously most don't want to pay overnight shipping prices for dog cupcakes. We are stuck but I am convinced there is a market for them. Retail? Wholesale? Franchising the brand of Canine Cupcakes? Please help, any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thank you so much.


Having 4 dogs and being a former sugar addict, I love the idea of dog cupcakes, kudos! My wife and I are currently solving a very similar issue with her t-shirt business. We don't have a freshness issue to deal with like you do, however we do have a scalability and growth issue that we are tackling.

Understand, there isn't really anything that remarkable about dog cupcakes, it's cool concept but it would be very easy for someone to deconstruct and create their own recipe and brand. So you'll need to focus on how you sell your cupcakes. What value you offer your customers? Why your recipe is unique? Is there any portion of your product, formula or service that could be trademarked or patented? Do you have a memorable name, tagline and mascot? Are the health benefits to your product? I know that in some cases pet food can be highly regulated so you may not be able to make specific health claims.

Next, I think you should look at a three pronged approach that is scalable:

1. Continue to develop your local market, treating it like a test kitchen. Work on new recipes, concepts, products, ideas and test them locally. Build a unique product line and a unique system for creating those products.

2. Develop a strong network of pet owners, pet shops, boutiques, organizations and so on.

3. Market your dog cupcake system and sell it as a turnkey package. This could be as simple or as fancy as you want to make it. The simple way would be to sell one time "starter package" with upgrades on a subscription model. This would include order forms, marketing plans, marketing materials, new product ideas, training videos, shopping lists, ingredients and so on. The expensive way would be to lawyer up and create an actual franchise but this can be very very expensive.

I hope this was helpful and I'd be happy to work with you further on developing your business. Good luck and I look forward to buying Sadie, Charlie, Nixie and Sachi some tasty treats from you in the near future!

Answered 10 years ago

Kudos to you on jumping in and actually starting your start-up! And congratulation on your initial success (finding a market and making sales).

It sounds like you've hit a proverbial wall... In that your original business model is maxed out.

If that's the case - This is point where you need to pivot. (In other words - you may not need a new business model.)

However, without knowing more about your current business model and the details of your business (including whether you are profitable or not, what your margins are, what your current capacity for production is, resources, etc) it's impossible to help with a business model that has any reasonable chance of success.

Any suggestions you receive without more data would be literally blind guesses... Not the kind I'd invest in.

I'd highly suggest you seek the assistance of a business coach (or find an experienced entrepreneur to partner with).

I wish you the best of luck in your future success!

Answered 10 years ago

Sounds like you have the makings of a few streams of income from this product. Especially because you have the website piece down and sales are growing. The decision of which avenue to take truly belongs to what you want to achieve. (by no means are these fulsome questions, simply what has come to me off the top of my head for this question - there are many more things to consider than this) For example, if you open a retail store - what is required in this set up - cost, operational requirements, staffing needs, your time & presence, sharing your recipe etc. In a franchise model - what would the cost breakdown be, how do you ensure quality, how do you protect your brand, what comes next in your product assortment and how do you roll that out? Wholesale - questions start at, where do I locate a bakery to create the supplies to fill the demand, again - staffing, leadership, next product assortment and future plan.
Please connect with me to chat this through. There are variables missing in the question that as we dig through them, you may be able to solve your next step.
Looking forward to hearing from you,

Answered 10 years ago

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