Becky Rao holds one of her Brittanys on her farm near Richfield, Wis. Rao talked her husband, Kailas
, into buying the rights to her favorite dog shampoo and is now trying to market the shampoo, called Isle of Dogs
, as a luxury pet brand.
husband, Kailas Rao
, bought the rights to her
favorite British dog shampoo and launched it as a luxury brand - Isle of Dogs
- that he
hopes will be someday regarded as the Starbucks
of the pet grooming industry.
"We want it to be a billion-dollar company," he
...Kailas Rao, a naturalized citizen who came to the United States from India more than 30 years ago as a student, made a fortune with two companies that he started after leaving a teaching post at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.His
first venture, a computer store, expanded into a chain of Computer Bay franchise stores.He sold that company in 1992 for $67 million, and later used the proceeds, along with money from investors, to start Industar, a wireless communications business.Industar
was sold to AT&T Wireless in 2000 for $129.6 million, including the assumption of $93.9 million in debt.
Becky Rao, who owns and breeds show-quality Brittany spaniels, persuaded her husband to buy the rights to the dog shampoo at a time when Kailas Rao
was looking for a new business endeavor.
...Kailas Rao, president and CEO of Isle of Dogs, holds a bottle of shampoo No. 12, one of the products the company offers.Rao, who attended Sam Houston State University and had a successful career in the technology industry, is now learning the ropes selling the dog products.
"I told her
to take up golf," he
said, laughing, remembering his
wife's pitch for him to make the pricey shampoo their new business.
Now, two years later, Kailas Rao
finds himself front and center in his
slick new $50,000 white-and-black trade show booth at dog shows, talking up the benefits of grooming products made with evening primrose oil and royal jelly.
"It takes 5,000 primrose seeds to make one ounce," he
boasts.The Isle of Dogs
shampoo, in a package that is marble-spa-bath-worthy, sells for $18 for 250 milliliters, or about 8.5 ounces.
In a world where celebrities carry their pooches to parties as fashion accessories, it appears that Kailas Rao
is again in the right place at the right time with this new venture.
didn't even like dogs, so the young couple acquired a cat.
...Even with two company launches and a doctorate in business under his belt, Kailas Rao acknowledges that this new venture into the world of packaged goods is a learning experience.
experience, contacts and financial strength put him in a position to make it work.
After buying the formula in 2005, Kailas Rao
began assembling a staff for the new business.He
needed to hire an agency to create a brand image and to find a company to make and distribute the product.
High-end human hair salons are another possibility, Kailas Rao
said, reasoning that dog owners would want to buy a premium product for their dogs at the same time they purchase hair care products for themselves.
Again, a Packaged Facts report backs up his
thinking.Citing American Animal Hospital Association
surveys in 2003 and 2004, the research report says that 94 percent of pet owners believe their pet has human traits, and 67 percent have included their pets in holiday celebrations.
"They sky may be the limit when it comes to consumers' investing in the best pet grooming products available," the Packaged Facts report says.
Big box pet supply chains and mass retailers aren't on the agenda for Isle of Dogs
, Kailas Rao
hopes to get his
brand into high-end retailers who don't ordinarily sell pet supplies: Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale's
"We're talking to them," Kailas Rao