Sometimes the best products are created from solving a simple everyday inconvenience. Michael Sweigart was tired of doing his family’s laundry, only to have it come out of the dryer still covered in pet hair. So he used his knowledge of silicone and experimented until he came upon a genius solution for removing fur from laundry: the FurZapper. Learn how this innovative pet and household product took advantage of RangeMe and ECRM Sessions to expand its visibility and connect with retail buyers.
Fur-mulation of the FurZapper
Sweigart, a work-from-home dad, was the designated laundry do-er in his family, and he noticed that the family pets–two dogs and a cat–left their presence on clothing even after it was washed and dried. Nothing on the market was efficient enough to get rid of the residual pet hair left on clothes, so he began experimenting with different ways to rid pet hair from the laundry. Sweigart had made a hobby of working with silicone, and he understood the textile’s properties and how it could possibly work in removing pet hair from clothes.
FurZapper has had a lot of success on e-commerce, but their first major deal for brick-and-mortar was made with Walmart. Chosen during Walmart’s Open Call Initiative, Sweigart and his business partner were invited to the retailer’s headquarters where they scored a deal with the laundry department. FurZapper can now be found in Walmart stores nationwide in the laundry section.
Sweigart tried different formulas, shapes, and sizes until he found the perfect combination to remove pet hair from clothes while tumbling around the washer and dryer without getting stuck to the machines or clothes. The result? The FurZapper, a hypoallergenic silicone device shaped like a hockey puck that plucks away pet hairs from clothes in the washer and dryer that is safe for humans, pets, and clothes alike.
Paws-itive experience with RangeMe
Walmart was certainly a great start, but Sweigart and his team wanted to take FurZapper even further.
“We found out about RangeMe about a year and a half ago through a Google search on how to identify retailers in the pet market that we wanted to reach out to,” Sweigart says. He signed up as a free supplier and started seeing interest in his product which prompted him to upgrade to Premium and get RangeMe Verified.
“As a Free Supplier, you’re limited in terms of getting Verified and reaching out to multiple retailers and distributors,” Sweigart says. “As a Premium Supplier, you have more visibility which shows a commitment to buyers and shows them you’re ready to do business.”
One of the major perks Sweigart enjoys about RangeMe is the Profile Insights feature. “It was interesting to see how long people were spending on our profile and revisiting after a few days and sometimes multiple times,” he notes. “That gave us a good measure on how to gauge their interest. Sometimes it’s tough with the Internet and email to understand if people are genuinely interested in our product and if it’s worth investing time in them. The statistical tools help us understand if they’re genuinely interested.”
Better than trade shows
Sweigart continually searched for new ways to get his product in front of the right people to expand FurZapper’s reach. He wasn’t wowed by trade shows, as he found they lacked a connection with the right buyers for his product. Sweigart and his team heard that RangeMe parent company, ECRM, hosts Efficient Program Planning Sessions with buyers from specific product categories, they were intrigued to learn more. These sessions are great opportunities for brands to meet individually with 40 plus buyers who are searching for products in a given category. When notified about ECRM’s Pet EPPS in Chicago and the benefits of attending these sessions, they decided to attend and they’re glad they did as FurZapper walked away with the Buyers Choice Award.
“The right buyers are coming in during these sessions and 95 percent of them are already a great match for your company,” Sweigart says. “Each meeting with buyers is focused on understanding the product and business which is refreshing compared to trade shows.”
Sweigart and his team had such a positive experience attending their first ECRM Session at the beginning of May, they signed up to attend the Houseware, Households, & General Merchandise EPPS in July of 2019.
“If someone is looking to meet buyers in their product category, ECRM has brought in great people to look at these companies who weren’t there to waste anyone’s time,” Sweigart says. “They were just there for the business of discovering products.”
And while the company continues to meet and greet the right buyers for their product, FurZapper also has some exciting prospects in the works. Based on leads they received on RangeMe and at their first ECRM Session, the company has multiple initial orders in the works.
Not a ruff life at all.