The truth is, as strange as this may sound, Pocket Pets was never even supposed to be a "business".
In fact, it all started out as something I was gonna do privately on the side with my kids - to kinda get them out in the "real world", and teach them about business, and then it just exploded and took on a life of it's own.
You see, back at that time, my oldest daughters - Jessica and Jamie - were only about 7 and 9 years old, and I had been looking for any kind of business that I could do part-time with my kids, but just couldn't find anything that made sense...
In fact, up to that point, about the only thing I found that could potentially even have worked for a 7 & 9 year old would have been to maybe do one of those "shaved ice" businesses, (where you get a little cart out in front of like a Lowe's or Home Depot) and even though it would have taught them a little about working with people, I just couldn't morally get behind selling "sugar water" to the public- and so after a few months of not finding anything, I had gotten pretty frustrated.
Then one Saturday, (keeping in mind again that I don't believe in "accidents"), a buddy of mine called, wanting me to go with him to some big event downtown at the local convention center. Turns out it was one of those “Big Boy Toy” shows; where they basically sell monster trucks, man caves, and “guy” stuff like that – and since I didn’t have anything urgent going on that morning, I decided to go with him...
Well, when we walked in, the first thing I saw out of the corner of my eye was a little booth over in one corner that had huge crowds of people “ooing & aahing” around it, naturally like any grown adult consumed by an inner-child, I immediately made a “beeline” over there to see what all the excitement was about.
Well, to my surprise, for the next few minutes I watched a “little-old man” keep a huge crowd of people totally mesmerized; by showing them a little-tiny animal called a “Sugar Bear”. Now, as it turns out, I had actually seen one of these little guys at a distance about 6 or 7 years earlier - because my dad's passion in life, (even thought we didn't grow up having much money),was always raising some sort of exotic animals- and one of his friends had actually gotten a Sugar Bear back when they were first imported into the U.S.
Now, just to be clear, having been raised on a "mini exotic animal farm" like I was, it made me pretty-much not an "animal person". I mean, I have scars all over my body proving that most animals were not made to be “pets”; so to be honest, I wasn’t very impressed with this guy, or what he was doing. But.... The more I watched the more facinated I became with the animals themselves.
You see, one of the main things my dad had me do growing up, was train all the animals we had, and after a few minutes of watching these little guys in action I was so impressed with how intelligent they were, that right there on the spot I bought three of them, & took them home to my family!
Well, for the next month or so, my kids and I worked with "Bandit".. "Smokey".. & "Tinkerbell" - and discovered along the way that these little "Sugar Bears" - (they're also called Sugar Gliders) actually made fantastic pets.
As it turned out, up to that point, nobody had actually taken the time to train one of these little guys and find out how smart they really were, so to make another long story short, after about a month or so, my kids and I were totally hooked. Now, at the same time my kids and I were bonding with our babies; "behind the scenes", I also started doing a little research - and talking to a couple responsible USDA licensed breeders.
To be clear, even at this point, I STILL, had no intentions of making this into any kind of "business", but given my background in training animals, I thought - at the very least-I could take what we had learned; and put together a good, free education program for other new owners out there.
But then, the more I watched my kids get closer and closer to Bandit, Smokey, & Tinkerbell - one day it suddenly occured to me that this might actually be the PERFECT way to teach my kids how to "communicate" (and interact with), the public. So the more I looked at it, the more it made a sense on a LOT of levels, but even at this point - as strange as it may sound- I still wasn't thinking this would be a full-blown "business" per say.
Honestly, I just thought it might be a lot of fun to go out maybe once a month with the kids and set up a “little booth” at a weekend show or a fair, and then - as a family - responsibly place a few babies for adoption in some good homes.
So, I set everything up over the next month or so, & eventually the big-day came when the girls and I had our first big “show”. It was just one of those typical little weekend “Home & Garden Shows”, and to the day I die I'll never forget what happened next... Over the next 2 1/2 days, it was a ZOO. (no pun intended) The crowds LOVED the animals...
My kids had a BLAST "showing off" their pets to the crowds...It was such a "feel good" moment.
Now, I’ll never forget driving back home that Sunday night with my kids, because of two things…First, my kids were beyond thrilled; because they got to adopt out a bunch of babies into great homes- and make a lot of people smile along the way! Now, as a "dad", just that in itself would have been a huge "home-run"-if that's all there was to it- but there was more...
Just as importantly, I had found the answer to a big problem that had been bothering me more and MORE over the last few weeks, and on that drive home, I knew - beyond a SHADOW of a doubt - that we were going to be able to build a FANTASTIC "business" out of literally SAVING animals...
Now, the reason I say "saving" animals, (and I use that term on purpose) is because shortly after we had gotten Bandit, Smokey, & Tinkerbell I had started doing quite a bit of research "behind the scenes" into how these little animals were actually being distributed and sold around the country at that time, -and quite frankly it was beyond disgusting.
You see, at that point, almost all Sugar Bears in this country were being sold in generic, neighborhood-type “pet shops” - by people who literally knew nothing about them – to a “public” that was given absolutely no ongoing support or education about how to properly raise and care for these little guys once they brought them home.
Now, again, having been raised on an exotic animal "farm", not only were most new owners having a terrible experience with the babies once they brough home, (simply because nobody taught them what to do), but even more importantly babies all over the country were literally being "doomed" every day to a horrible life inside their cage with no affection or love.
So, long story short, as I drove home with my daughters from that night from our first event,
my "mission" became to stop Sugar Bears from being sold irresponsibly by pet shops & illegal black-market breeders,
- and instead- establish a ground-breaking new program for personally-and responsibly - adopting pets in this country...
and THAT'S how "Pocket Pets™" was born.
Now, as I sit here talking with you right now, that was almost eight years ago...
In that time, not only has Pocket Pets™ succesfully placed over 50,000 baby Sugar Bears in homes all over the United States, but it's been estimated that we are now responsible for approximately 95% of all legal Sugar Glider adoptions that happen in this country each year.
Now as impressive as all those numbers might sound, in my opinion, that's still not our biggest achievement;
because by working closely with teams of top Veterinarians, nutritionists, and animal-care experts for almost a decade now, together we have literally revolutionized everything about how Sugar Gliders are cared for,
and at the same time, established a new "standard" for ALLresponsible pet ownership worldwide.
Now...I kow that was kind of a "long story" as to how this all came to be, but if you're even remotely thinking about "linking arms" with us - and joining our family, it's important to me at this point that you clearly understand the "roots" of this company, and the principles on which it's been built.
The truth is, after that first show my daughters and I did, almost overnight the demand for these little darlings exploded into something MUCH bigger than my kids & I could handle by ourselves
But rather than grow fast, we decided to take-our-time, and focus on building the first-ever "Personalized Adoption Program" of its kind, (PAP) that would:
- adopt baby Sugar Bears into the best possible homes, and
- make sure their "parents" have a great experience by educating and supporting them long after "the sale", and
promote responsible pet ownership, while building a VERY rewarding long-term relationship with our customers and their families