On this 59th episode of The E-Comm Show, our host and BlueTuskr CEO Andrew Maff is with Yuki, the co-founder of Plufl, the world's first dog bed for humans. Tune in to this episode of The E-Comm Show as Yuki shares Plufl’s brand story from product ideation and conceptualization to manufacturing to successfully closing a deal with Mark and Lori on Shark Tank!
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Brand Building and Expansion - Plufl
Andrew Maff and Yuki
Yuki is the co-founder of Plufl, the world's first dog bed for humans. Yuki created Plufl with the goal to revolutionize the napping experience by providing a cozy, comfortable, and premium product that delivers the ultimate stress and anxiety relief. Plufl has raised over $400,000 via crowdfunding and recently went on Shark Tank where they secured a 200k deal with Mark and Lori.
I've been talking to other founders and their biggest advice has been to just take it slow Don't rush into anything just because I think our first product has so much potential that we want to explore that as much as we can. So that kind of feeling that strange but I want it is going to be like a continuing motto as we continue.
Hey everyone this is Nezar Akeel of Max Pro. Hi, I'm Linda and I'm Paul and we're Love and Pebble. Hi, this is Lopa Van Der Mersch from RASA. You're listening to, and you're listening, and you are listening
everyone and welcome to another episode of The E-Comm Show. I'm your host Andrew Maff and today I am joined by Yuki Kinoshita of Plufl. I'm sure you've all heard of them, but we'll get into that in a minute Yuki is super excited to have you on the show. Are you ready for this? Yeah.
to The E-Comm Show. Welcome to The E-Comm Show, presented by BlueTuskr, the number one place to hear the inside scoop from other ecommerce experts. They share their secrets on how they scaled their business and are now living the dream. Now, here's your host, Andrew Maff. Hello,
Thanks for having me, Andrew. I'm stoked.
This is gonna be a good one. I'm sure you're aware. We've had several people that were on Shark Tank before which we don't have to harp on for too long, but you were like just on it. I think I just watched your episode a couple of weeks ago I recorded it. Yeah. Let's pretend no one knows who you are. No one watched anything. Why don't you tell us a little about yourself about Buffalo and we'll go from there?
Yeah, I'm Yuki. I'm the co one of the co-founders of Buffalo. I started this with my best friend and college, a classic college dorm idea. We were big nappers always lying on the uncomfortable couches or the Eco building. And one day, my co-founder is walking past his coffee shop. And he was he didn't work out, it sees his great dane, sleeping on a giant dog bed. And he has this moment of like inspiration. It's like, I want a dog bed, but for myself. And he tells a few people he tells me and he's like, I think I was the only one that kind of like, thought it was a good idea. Like you were like, You're crazy. That's like stupid like people just buy a big dark dog bed. But I was like, this is fun. Like, I don't know if it was a good idea at all. But like, this sounds fun. Like, let's do it. Let's build something. And then that was it. And we just decided to get together and make a prototype. We got pillow stuffing from Ikea and blew it into this handmade case that was designed by this local seamstress. And that was sort of the birth of Puffle, obviously, as a lot more past that point. But that's how it kind of all started.
Nice. So you were on Shark Tank, you were featured on Fallon, you were featured on Good Morning America. Now you're on The E-Comm Show. So you've clearly hit your peak. What's going to happen next?
I don't think there's anything better than this. So there's a lot to happen. I'm our newly launched company; if you saw our Shark Tank episode, you know, I kept the harp and I would make fun of you for this. But we're recent college grads; we just graduated. And it's true, you know, no, and I've only been doing this full-time for about five months. And it's our first go at it. We finished our Kickstarter campaign a few months ago. And we're readily getting ready to actually fulfill those orders in about a month. Our first-ever container, three containers just left, our manufacturer is super excited been tracking it every day, and we're going to be fulfilling those in late November, or early December. So that's gonna be super exciting. And then we already have another 3000 unit production run coming in. This is gonna land mid-January, and we're going to be shipping those out as soon as possible. And those primarily to fulfill the demand that we saw from Shark Tank and all the previous demand that we've gotten.
Yeah. Will you clear seven figures this year?
Yeah, we are on track to clear close. I think we will be dropped right around that. In our first like saying, she's pretty crazy.
That's nuts. So what was the beginning process of this like? So I know your roommate saw Great Dane sleeping, and I understand it all makes sense. How did you like to source this? How did you like, is this like, did you reach out to a dog that manufacturer and be like, Hey, can you make me one that's significantly bigger? Or did you go in a totally different direction?
Yeah, so we had a few ways. So we started with just trying to make this locally handmade to get the concept off the ground. But we ran into a lot of problems. The local sutures couldn't make something replicable for mass manufacturing. So the product you see the sort of in the early stages, and early marketing is just a product that's currently just a one-time thing. You can't remove the case; you can't do any of the functionalities that we added on later or that we kind of promised a little bit. So what we did was we took this and we kind of, you know, conduct some manufacturers overseas in Asia, a lot of Asian countries like Indonesia, China, Vietnam, India, and saw like got a list in a bunch of samples and saw who could do it the best. But we found a lot of issues people couldn't make it larger, and a lot of the features are below Like, for example, the ability to tuck your hand and feed them underneath the pillow bolster and the consistency of this pillow bolster and all these like foam features, just like dog bed manufacturers weren't able to do they're so used to making these small beds or not for people that wouldn't try to make changes beyond just a simple like an oval shape. They weren't able to do so we had a completely like go back to the drawing board and re-engineer it from the base up just to, like, make it as comfortable for people and like forget the concept that this is for dogs, but this is for people. So we hired a local product development person with a background in making cat-like premium cat beds. And we worked with her for months to create this, like a tech pack that was then sent off to manufacturers, but even then, manufacturers still had trouble. So we had to, I think, like, start off with like working on like 10 Different manufacturers and whittle it down like two to three that we thought, promise and then just worked with them to do r&d And, like, get the product that we have today. And yeah, surprisingly, it's a lot harder than we expected. We thought we could just take a regular-sized dolphin and make it larger, but it wasn't that simple.
So I know you got a lot of hype from the Shark Tank side of things, but you did go in there with pre-orders ready to ship stuff like you were prepped and ready to go. And I know you started on I believe, Kickstarter, correct? That's right.
We do crowdfunding campaigns on Kickstarter and Indiegogo.
So what was it that got that initial crowdfunding going? What was your marketing in the beginning there?
Yeah, so we put this product, this idea, on TikTok, and it went super viral. In the first fifth video we posted, of course, it now has like 10 million views on it. And this was back when we had no marketing strategy, like no really like idea what we were doing; we just had an idea and a dream. And it just really resonated, but both have a lot of credit. A lot of good buzz people are like I need this; I've been looking for this product all my life and a lot of people are like it's just a dog bed. So it's like both in good ways. TikTok loves controversy, and our product was exactly that. And then it created a draw us drew so many eyeballs that on our first day, we had all these people from tick tock ready to like, Support our campaign and then just blew our first day go out of the water and got a lot of like organic sort of appeal through the Kickstarter platform people are a lot of people were discovering us on Kickstarter. Now because of that.
It's pretty impressive. Because, you know, tick-tock has that power. At least it does right now. But you find a lot of brands, especially like yours, that come out of the woodwork, and they're on Kickstarter and don't fulfill for years sometimes. So for you guys to start this like five months ago and are already fulfilling right at the peak of when you should probably be fulfilling is fantastic. This means you're about to get countless people getting this as Christmas gifts and over the holidays that are going to be on TikTok. And it will cause another snowball effect, which is fantastic. What, um, so did you so obviously it went viral on Tiktok? Did you put any marketing into it outside of just posting on Tiktok? Or is it solely that?
Yeah, primarily up to our date, all our marketing has been organic, and we've barely spent any money on marketing, which is awesome. And that's, you know, a lot of companies are struggling because CAC is getting higher, and it's really hard to acquire customers. We've been fortunate enough to get so many organic eyeballs to our product, and our and our page that we haven't been able to do haven't had to do that. And yeah, primarily, it's really just been content through Tik Tok and kind of reposting that on reels, YouTube shorts, Facebook reels, wherever, and just getting so many combined eyeballs to our page. In addition to the sort of like getting press features and all these things also just grown our email subscriber list, which is I think, close to the date; it's about 50,000 50,000 people on an email subscriber list.
I know so many commerce sellers who have been doing this for like seven or eight years and whose email lists are not that big. Yeah, you should be alright. Is there any thought? Or I know you're still wildly early. But is there any thought on expanding the product? 100%?
No. and I have so many product ideas. You know, we I've been talking to other founders, and their biggest advice has been just to take it slow. Don't rush into anything just because I think our first product has so much potential that we want to explore that as much as we can. But we have so many ideas for compliments for the product that I want to share right now just because they're still in the ideation stage. But I think we'll have a lot of similar products like the human-dog bed where it's like, whoa, what kind of thing, but when you actually look at it, it looks really comfortable,, and you want it so that kind of feeling of that strange, but I want it is going to be like a continuing motto as we continue to go.
Yeah, I get that, but my wife and I watched it, and the first thing she said was she's like, I want one, and then I also want one for the quarry that we have, and I was like, yes, that kind of makes sense like his and hers kind I think But alright, so obviously, you're on Shark Tank, we have to go through this whole song and dance. I know you're probably tired of talking about it. Can you give us a little bit of insight into why you went on? Although I guess for you does kind of make sense since you're still d getting an investment, but then be what that whole process was like?
Yeah, so we got contacted by the producer literally a few weeks after our vile Tiktok. So I think at this point, we hadn't even launched on Kickstarter yet. So it felt surreal. It didn't; we thought it was a scam, but we didn't think it was real. And because we were just like, why we just posted one tick tock, why would you be reaching out to us? We don't even haven't delivered a product yet. We have no sales. So that was kind of surprising. But I think the producer just liked the idea behind it deep down. And he also just knew that it was gonna be a really good Shark Tank product, whether we went there and totally flopped, or went there and like, smashed it, it wouldn't be good for that, by the way, because it's great content. So I think he saw that, and sort of, you know, I guess invested in us in that way to get us and bring us on the show. And it was a really long process, months and months of, like, paperwork, and like interviews and like meeting the producers and all these things, which is fine. You know, in hindsight, it was all worth it. But it was pretty nerve racking because, again, when he first reached out, all we had was de prototype. And like one manufacturing sample that we didn't like, obviously, the producers didn't know that. So we spent the next few months obviously for our Kickstarter too, but really, really pushing to figure out how do we get the product that we actually are going to sell on Shark Tank, how we're going to shut out a shark tank and make sure it's the same product that we're actually selling. And we ate taped in Shark Tank back in July. So it's a lot earlier than people expect. People think we taped a few years before we ever know, it's like many months before. So it was pretty, pretty stressful. And our manufacturers send the wrong phone piece to our studio. So we had to like make it a local backpack. I like vacuum sealing and backpacks, like putting in our suitcase, bringing it down, and like reassessing and reassembling it like 20 minutes before a pitch. So it wasn't as smooth sailing as a locked but-in. Yeah, we were really happy with how the to upsell looked. And yeah, we're not. We have no complaints as we did at the end of the day; it all worked out. So we're super happy about it.
Do you,, um, so there was the show? I put this. Alright, so you go viral on Tiktok. Right? And then you have like your average, kind of like you're now you're a little bit post to the viral aspect of it. You kind of hasyour average sales there. Right. And then you have back now you're on Shark Tank. What was the difference there? How big of a jump was that?
Yeah, surprisingly, it was probably like not that big of a jump. Maybe like 3x times 4x, or baseline revenue in terms of like averaging out the night of you obviously, you know, did like 10 to 20x when we usually do on a day. But I'm postingark Tank. It's been like three, three acts that we usually did before. Funny enough, we got close to like 50 40,000 visitors the night of Shark Tank, which is absolutely wild. But then two days later, we posted a tick-tock,, I think talking about shark tank a little bit talking about why the sharks like the product and featuring your product that also went viral on Tiktok, like five to 6 million views. And then we had 50 60,000 visitors that day.
Shark Tank Yeah, we've
surprisingly, I mean, again, Shark Tank is great because it gives us,, as people that are already making a bunch of content, even more content that goes really viral. So that's kind of like a snowball effect. But I think that's been almost not a bigger value. But a value that like people don't talk about is that going on Shark Tank that credibility is amazing. And all the exposure is amazing. But now these days, you can really take that and like repurpose it and then continue to get more traction where A lot of people don't even watch Shark Tank anymore. younger demographic,, and you can bring it down onto Tik Tok and get so many new eyeballs to your product. So that'sretty cool.
That's very smart. Yeah, there's we've interviewed ann I can't remember,, we interviewed someone who's like from like, the second or third season, and they still have it plastered all over their website. And I'm like, Yeah, I mean, it kind of it does make sense. Plus, obviously, you got an investment. Right? So you got to ark and Lori, how was that immediately post that rocess?
Yeah. So it doesn't actually close right away. So it takes months and months of like due diligence, and t of back and forth. So actually still haven't closed the deal yet. You know, we are looking to close,, but I think there are a few things you just need to iron out in our due diligence process before we can go ough that. So yeah, people think you get the handshake. You get the money. They're there on stage. But yeah, a lot of times when they air,, they usually do try to have companies closed,, but since we were one of our earlier episodes on the season, they just knew that It wasn't possible for us to clear more soon before we aired.
Yeah, makes sense. What Um, alright, so let's, let's say obviously, hopefully,, this doesn't happen. But let's say you don't go it doesn't close. Right? You still got your Kickstarter campaign, you're still on track to do over seven figures in your first year. What's your game plan for continuing to market? The whole? The whole business? Obviously,
definitely. So yeah, I think there's a lot of potential here. We haven't even tapped into like influencer marketing, for example. And we're getting a lot of inbound requests for people that are like willing to talk about the product and share it without really asking us for anything in return other than just the free product. So that's been really exciting, and you just didn't have enough inventory to turee all that. So I think that will sort of get continue to get us more sort of organic eyeballs to our product. I think referrals will be really big, we are looking into setting up a ral program for everyone that gets the product; it really is experiencing what's's what I'm excited about. It's not a product you just use for yourself,, have a human dog, but in your house, you know, your kids are going to use it, your wife's going to use that,, your friends are going to want to use it, their dog is going to want to use it, you know, you're gonna have everyone talking about it. And that's what we really want to do talk to people talking about online, but people also talking e. So you think that has a lot of potential But beyond that, obviously, like, we think this could be really big,, and workplaces and universities, I'm talking with our university, Alma Mater, UBC, they're really interested in having one of these in the Econ building where there's a bunch of uncomfortable couches. So hopefully, we can replace them with a few Fluffles talking about high school; they really want a fee for the library. And that's just the start. You know, I haven't really done much more than that. But I know there arere universities out there that have nap rooms, rooms, lounge rooms, and and workplaces that have beanbags that people don't actually sleep use them isn't I know we can replace or be a good substitute too. There's so much potential,, and obviously,, like new products, there's a bunch of compliments, like blankets and different kinds of s of pillows and other things that we have in mind that will be even more exciting. So yeah, there's so much on the plate that we can do. And I'm just gonna take it day by day.
Nice. Yeah, you're in a very interesting spot, right? Like you're nths in, you're just now kind of getting into the industry and learning what everyone else is doing. You have all these ideas from a marketing standpoint, but you've gone so viral that inventories are a pain, like getting enough in is a challenge. Have you thought about doing it it like I've seen it work a handful of times where they do like I've got to create content, you'venever done it before, like just constantly pushing stuff out? Because when you're out of inventory, if you don't post anything, people kind of flake out for a little while. But if you do like a countdown to when you'll be in inventory again, and almost do like those exclusive drops that you kind of see with like sneakers and different like apparel lines. Like,, have you guys thought about how you're going to market yourselves when you're having inventory issues, which I'm gonna guess will happen for probably the next monthyear? Yeah, so
we're thinking of having,, like, out-of-stock buttons as well, on our website, we're thinking of implementing that as well, in addition to,, like, pre-ordering, but you get to save, let's say $100, which is sort of our motto right now, if you preorder right now you can find a discount code on our website for up to $100. So that's like a big benefit. Yeah, I haven't really thought of it at about too much. We're t the next inventory runs three doubles, at least like, take us for a few months off inventoriesased on our projections. And then,, while that's happening, we're already starting the production run, and we are really pushing with our manufacturer for better terms. And he's, you know, they're pretty willing to provide us that even early on because theyy sort of see the potential in our product to do really well. So that's been a big help in terms of financing. And obviously, I will still look close a deal,, whether it be the Shark Tank deal or a potentially different dependingnee on on how that goes. And you know, all that money really will be used t to scale our inventory and to make sure we are in stock. But yeah, there arere a bunch of other ideas we have with the product beyond just the original one. We want to have different colors and materials and all these things. So we are even thinking of potentially future fusions, virgins, like having a preorder button set up for them, and people who want to access it early and get a big discount. And that way,, we sort of measure how much demand there is for alternative products and materials.
I know s like yours when they kind of get this big pop that goesiral. One of the problems that they end up having is it kind of like what peloton did during the pandemic right is like they get all this,, you know,, interest. So then they get a ton of inventory assuming that thatrajectory is going to happen,, and nine times out of 10,, that doesn't really happen. Have you thought about how like I'm not an inventory guy? So I'm really interested in like how Are you going to map out how much inventory you should have? Knowing that it's possible that you won't continuously go viral?
Yeah, that's definitely the toughest part that we're kind of like struggling to figure out right now. For sure. I think,, for now, we have od pre-orders, which letss us really figuree out exactly how many units we need right untill the day we ship units And we can sort of forecast based on the current demand, maybe scaled out a little bit per month, how many units we're going to sell. So in the short run, it's pretty easy to forecast what the next production size should be. But beyond that, it is definitely pretty difficult. If we're, you know, we're considering it could be a potentially seasonalal product as well. If people don't wouldn't purchase it during the summer. It's hard to say right now. So yeah, that's definitely a challenge. I think every ecommerce could take
a sleeping bag version.
You know, I know, I know, a few weighted blanket companies that you know, sold a weighted blanket. And then,, during the summer, they got screwed because no one was buying it. So their solution was to make a cooling one. You know, we want to do the same thing as well and offer cooling products in the summer. So yeah, it's tough to say exactly, but I think for at least that year, we'll have a lot of opportunities to sell in many different channels. And I don't think having too much inventory will be the issue. But definitely,, something to consider as we grow bigger past one.
Yeah. Well, you're in for a wild ride,, man. Really appreciated. Having you on the show. I don't want to take up too much of your time. And you guys are probably slammed right now. But we'd love to do the normal and give you an opportunity here to let everyone know where they can find out more about you and obviously playful as well.
Yeah, really appreciate it. So you can find more buffalo we are playful.com That's we are,, PLUFL.com. That's our social media. We are plentiful, Instagram and TikTok. Feel free to find the content that made us viral. And yeah, I really appreciate it being on the show. Thanks for having me.
Beautiful. Thanks for being on the showman.. I Appreciate it. Obviously, everyone that tuned in,, thank you as well please make sure you rate, review, subscribe, and all that fun stuff on whatever podcast platform you want, YouTube, or head over the ecommshow.com to check out all the other episodes and whatever else you want to do on there. But as usual, appreciate you all being here,, and we will see you all next time.
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