DESCRIPTION: Family pet
COMPANY LOCATION: Missouri
CORE TEAM MEMBERS: Theory: Wexler kids (ages 9, 7 and 5)/ Reality: Wexler parents
DEAL LEAD (SPIRITUAL): Samantha Wexler, age 5 (aka Boss Baby)
DEAL LEAD (EXECUTION): Patty Wexler
OPPORTUNITY: Acquire puppy as 6th family member
PRE-MONEY VALUATION: [Pandemic surge pricing]
IMPLIED OWNERSHIP: 100%
INVESTMENT STRUCTURE: 50% reserve deposit, upfront cash for full ownership upon arrival
CLOSING DATE: August 31st, 2020
KEY INVESTORS: Wexlers
- Having clearly stated a puppy was outside of our mandate since inception, under relentless pressure from the offspring and subject to COVID-induced poor judgment, we are considering succumbing to adorableness based on online video and pictures.
- Humans are social animals. The limitations imposed on our children due to social distancing have resulted in (a) much less social interaction, (b) too much screen time/digital socialization and © continued presence at home and limited travel for all family members. These are optimal extenuating circumstances for puppy training.
- Our diligence was less thorough than usual, our analysis shows this will be a bad investment, and the management team is both inexperienced and its junior members are unlikely to persevere through the inevitable startup challenges.
- Notwithstanding the above, we recommend moving forward. Bottom line: puppies are cute. Our kids want one. Quarantine seems like a good time to do it. We know it is way too much work and we will probably regret this decision. And yet we cannot resist, and are rationalizing this based on what’s good for the kids and that if so many families can figure it out so can we.
- Puppies are super-duper ultra-cute. See Exhibit A
- Kids will benefit from having a puppy to love and care for
- Key Investment Risks: (1) Puppy training is exhausting (2) Post-COVID/travel logistics will be a nightmare (3) Selected dog could have health and/or behavioral issues
“Bambi” (as the breeder calls her, we plan on a full rebranding to “Coco” under new management) is an adorable ruby-colored Cavapoo born June 29th, 2020. Her mother is a 12-lb champion Cavalier, her father a 10-lb champion mini-Poodle. She is the last one available in her litter.
We originally proactively reached out to multiple breeders in central Pennsylvania, within driving distance of our current location. We identified our favorites based on triangulation of available puppies, reputation and our direct conversations with the owners. However, after concerns about potential puppy mills posing as nice Amish families, we gave up, expanded our area of search and found a very reputable breeder in Missouri with one adorable Cavapoo left.
Fit with Wexler Mission
Our primary objective as a family is to allow each individual to reach his or her fullest potential, and raise the children to be happy, valuable members of society. Bringing a puppy into the mix will likely enhance our children’s happiness and give them opportunities to learn to care for others, develop a sense of responsibility, and empathy for all living things.
Through initial diligence we determined Cavapoo was the right breed for us. Given our requirement to be able to travel by plane with our dog, we quickly eliminated certain breeds (which include pug, one of our original candidates), and determined we needed a small dog so as to bring it along in the cabin when necessary.
We also wanted a family-friendly, low-shedding dog with fewer health problems. Among those potential breeds, we picked based on the critical criteria of CUTENESS.
Thereafter, our diligence process included significant research of the reputation of the breeders, inquiry into the dam and sire of each prospective candidate, and a review of health records for the potential puppy. Throughout this process, we seriously considered 4 possible puppies. In the end, primarily driven by concerns about the reputation of the breeder were lucky to find one that fit all our criteria except for distance.
We acknowledge our diligence was perhaps less thorough than usual, driven by the puppy frenzy induced by COVID, and the limitations on travel and visitation imposed by the pandemic. But the CUTENESS….
According to the 2019–2020 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA) — pre-COVID — 63% of American households own a dog. It is our estimate that post-COVID, the penetration of families with children must be close to 100%. If puppies were a public stock their closest COVID comp would be ZOOM.
Dogs are amazingly real, not even showing any interest in screens. And seem to pose low risk of COVID transmission.
Pre-COVID, dogs competed for time with all other forms of socialization for our children and were an impediment to travel and being away from home long stretches of time. Given the realities for the foreseeable future of living in a pandemic, dogs have very limited competition (Note 1: for obvious reasons we do not consider cats or any other pets as worthy of discussion here ;) — [Note 2: we understand Investment Committee is comprised exclusively of dog people and no cat people]
Go-to market strategy. We plan on attempting training on our own. If we fail, we have identified a local trainer to come and advise us on how to do our own training. As a backup in an extreme downside case, we have identified another trainer which could take our puppy for a few weeks and help us. But we are delusional at this time and do not expect to have to trigger such actions.
Roadmap. Cavapoos should be mostly trained by 4–6 months of age and become fully grown adults by 1 year of age. After that we hope to be in a natural routine sharing walking responsibilities amongst the family members and be able to leave the dog alone or with family as needed if we ever start leaving our home, traveling and socializing again.
Like most startup roadmaps, this is unlikely to come to pass smoothly — likely deviations include (a) much longer time period through full potty training, and (b) poor execution on all other forms of behavioral training on our behalf.
Unlike most startup investments, in this case we are taking over complete management, with no smooth handover. G-d help us!
- Patricia Wexler: loves puppies, very organized, likes to walk. However, does not enjoy waking up early, has little patience and does not like messes. Also works full time so has little bandwidth during the day. And post-COVID may resume extensive work travel.
- Nick Wexler: despite his opposition to having a puppy, deep down inside loves them. He is very athletic and an early-riser, however hates shedding and licking and germs.
- Alexandra Wexler: the firstborn Wexler child, loves puppies and is very responsible. Unfortunately, may forget the puppy if she is playing Sims.
- Zack Wexler: only boy and very athletic child, will enjoy giving the puppy a workout. And loves cuddly things. But has many other priorities including team sports that will detract from his ability to take care of the puppy.
- Samantha Wexler (aka Boss Baby): clearly the key driver behind this entire investment, she has continuously made the case for the investment, and although she claims she will take on most of the management, we know she will act as a very hands-off Chairman of the Board, expecting all others to do all the work. She has also made it explicitly clear she will not be “picking up poop”.
Overall, the team lacks experience and is likely to commit many stumbles and regret this investment. But everyone will ooh and aah from Day 1 and so seem cluelessly determined to move forward.
Key Financial Indicators
This investment will be a clear drain on family resources. In the base case, spend on food, health and maintenance will be in the thousands of dollars annually. Downside cases include much higher than expected veterinary and lodging costs. This does not even factor in potential damage to personal belongings and furniture, especially during the puppy phase. THERE IS NO FINANCIAL UPSIDE AND MEANINGFUL FINANCIAL DOWNSIDE.
Exhibit A: Product Demo
The out of the box experience promises to be flawless. Oohs and aahs and maximum joy. Thereafter the product [which has no warranty] is likely to provide enormous ups and downs, and there is no customer support at all.
We have been advised to not go ahead with a product demo, as if children come along there is a 100% conversion rate no matter what.
WE REST OUR CASE!