The cavnessHR Podcast - Tovargii “Tru” Pugh
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Jason: Hello and welcome to the cavnessHR Podcast. I'm your host Jason Cavness. Our guest today is Tru Pugh. Tru are you ready to be great today?
Jason: [00:13]Tru is an Army Veteran with a tour to Afghanistan during his time in the military. He's also the proud son of two Army Veterans who had 12 tours between them. He was born in Orlando, Florida and has four siblings. This is quite impressive here: at the age of seven he built his first computer from the ground up and at 15 he started a business fixing people's everyday electronics. At 20 he joined the Army and became a signal support specialist where he was stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McCord in the state of Washington. He also started a Tech Company by the name of Crew Tech with one of his AIT battle buddies; they handled tests to computer support to car product installation. He is now founder of Dawg-Box and a creator of the Dog Release Station. Thank you for coming today Tru. Tru can you talk a minute about your new company Dawg-Box
Tru: [01:18] I mean a lot of people have pets you know there's, a lot of people who have cats and it's convenient because you know you can locally place a litter box somewhere. People can actually leave their cats and go to work and not really having to worry about it. But you have those people who have dogs like such as myself and they're always in a rush trying to get home and yet people who live in high-rise, it's a lot more cumbersome for them especially where you can't build up. So, what I improvised was I was trying to actually find a solution to my problem because I'm a vet. I have a service dog and she can't really go with me on post because of her breed, from what I'm told.
Tru: So, I took to the Internet to try to find a solution for it and none of them were working for me. In that event, I ended up coming up with DRS which is the Dog Release Station that basically is for people with a dog essentially. It's, like a synthetic turf that' coated with the antibacterial agent there's….it's, it's all about being eco-friendly. So, it's easy cleanup, so right now I guess the EPA is suggesting that the best way to get rid of dog feces is to actually flush it. The competition that are on the market they just…. it wasn't working for me. I tried pee pads. Those didn't work for my dog, she would just tear them up. She thought that they were just a joke. Now I guess they're coming out in the market where there's like these turf pads if you will. That you're supposed to use for a week and then you dispose them. But I don't think people really take into consideration what they're inviting into their home by using those pieces of dirt.
Tru: Lately you have dog parks around, like there's a dog park in Oregon that just closed down recently from a parvo outbreak. So, a lot of this stuff is stemming from the dog feces and when you have your dog consistently using the same piece of turf that has noway of adequately cleaning itself. So, your sanitizing and your dog is constantly using it. What are you really inviting your dog to bring back into your house? You know in this age we don't see dogs as pets, we see them as family members.
Jason Cavness [03:52]Yes that’s true.
Tru [03:53] You know if you have carpet, you see how that easily that could just build into your carpet and now your family is getting sick. You have dogs that you allow on your couch and your bed and it just becomes a problem. So much of a problem that the government has started trying to find a way to fix that issue. So, what for me started out as a solution to my problem ended up being something much bigger.
Jason Cavness [04:17] So tell us about the process, as far as finding the material for Dawg-Box.
Tru [04:27] I wanted my product to be a quality product. I didn’t want to just bring something quick to the market. I wanted to make sure every material that I was using was either environmentally friendly or it was gonna be a solid material that was gonna be able to sustain not just the dog stepping on it. But you know you have kids too. Kids might go run and jump on it and you don't want something that's gonna break and cause somebody some kind of harm.
Tru: We used like a high polymer like a high-density plastic that was a hundred percent recyclable. For the turf we had to actually build that. That wasn't something that was on the market, we had to go and talk to some manufacturers and say okay well we want the turf to be this thickness with antibacterial properties. Something that was easily able to be cleaned. It didn't dawn on me until I actually tried to make a product, that is really labor intensive.
Jason Cavness Now I think you told me before, but how many dogs are actually in the Seattle area?
Tru So, that's the crazy portion about it because Seattle is known for having more dogs than there are children in the area. There are 107,000 children and there's over a 155,000 dogs.
Jason Cavness [05:58]Wow!! That’s crazy.
Tru [05:59] It's pretty crazy.
Jason Cavness [06:00] People might not know this that don't live in Seattle. Most people in Seattle actually live in apartments or townhomes. Because of the limited land area. So, a high percentage of those pets are in apartments or townhomes or place of no yards. Right?
Tru [06:14] Right, right!! I mean I've done my research and I know there was a test that was recently done by apartments.com that more than 75% of people who live in apartments have one or more dogs. You got to think at this point, it's like okay well how are the apartments gonna be more environmentally friendly to people who have pets? [06:36] You have to make it welcoming for somebody to say okay well: I would rather live in this place where my dog has the ability to do what they need to do versus one where it's like: I have to hide my dog.
Jason Cavness [06:51] If you live on the 6th floor and even if you stay home all day. Do you really want to go downstairs for 4 or 5, 6 times a day? Because we have a dog, he goes out at least 10 times a day. I can't imagine being a sixth-floor apartment and going up and down up.
Tru [07:07] Yeah!! It's crazy. I mean for my product I don't just see it on just a residential level. We'll get into the whole commercial aspect of it. but you have to crawl before you walk. I said when I created the product. I went to try to figure out if something like that out was on market and it wasn't. So, we were very fortunate to get the patents that we did for the product itself. [07:34] Doing you research to try to figure out what markets are really congested with dogs. Portland was number one on the list for the area with the most dogs in it. Then you had San Diego and then Seattle was third.
Jason Cavness [07:50] Is it safe to presume that you're gonna go to the markets with most dogs in them?
Tru [07:54] Well I want to make it accessible for everybody. But it would make sense to try to tackle the markets that actually really need it. I've tried to do surveys. I've tried to go out and actually talk and engage with people and try to get their thoughts on dog parks and things like that. Some of the people that I've talked to in Seattle say that there's not really grass around. You do have to use the dog parks.
Tru: But a lot of people don't like to admit that their dogs aren't as friendly as they would like them to be. [08:26] So it could be a lot more cumbersome for them to take their dogs to the dog park because you don't really know how your dog's gonna act around other dogs. You know that for me this is a problem. Because when I take my dog for a walk I don't really know how those other dogs are gonna be. Mostly you see other people's dogs barking and your dog is kind of like docile, to themselves. I've had a dog before where he wasn’t aggressive towards people. But he didn’t like other dogs and that could become a problem.
Jason Cavness [09:00] Can you talk a little bit about the patent process because most people especially me thinks the patent process is a long process and cost tens or twenty thousand dollars. Can you shed some light on how easy or hard that was for you?
Tru [09:16]Well I can shed light on what I know about the patent process. So for me I know there was 2 patents: there was a design patent and there was a utility patent. The utility patent is obviously a more concrete patent. It pretty much protects how your product works as to where a design is a specific look that nobody can do. I guess in layman's terms it would be like if you had an iPhone and the way that the iPhone screen looks like you know how the apps are, where they position that on the screen that would be more designed compared to how Android looks as to where the utility would be the function of you know how a treadmill works versus walking on the ground. You see what I’m saying?
Jason Cavness [10:03]Yeah!!
Tru [10:03] It was a long process and I know they usually typically say that patents will generally take anywhere from 18 to 24 months. For a lot of people, I don't think they understand during that process is when you're actually supposed to be trying to build the product. Trying to do prototypes and things of that nature. But that stuff gets expensive. For me I actually got my patent within 4 months which was crazy. Like that was record time for me. We filed for it in February, we were like talking about doing everything for a whole year prior to and then it finally got filed in February and then on the 22nd of this month it got issued. I'm kind of excited about that.
Jason That's a good story for you. 4 months, that is good.
Tru [10:53] I mean there's different ways to go about filing a patent. A typical patent is anywhere from you know 20 grand up and it just depends on how you go about doing it. Because you have some patent lawyers out there who could get it done for 10% of that. You just have to do the research to try to find those guys. Because obviously it's no different than any other business. Say if you were coming in to try to get an oil change from me I'm gonna make it seem a lot more difficult than what it really is.
Jason Cavness [11:21]Yes!!
Tru [11:22]Or I could hit you on the price. But it's not anything that's hard, you just have to be willing to work to do.
Jason Cavness [11:32] Talk to us about a time in the past you were successful, what you learned from this success and what we can learn from the success.
Tru [11:41] Well as I said before, I had a business partner. He was a battle buddy when I was stationed at Joint Base Lewis McChord and we had the business by the name of Crew Tech. We did computer software and this was…. this was back when all that cloud stuff was getting ready to start to happen and people weren't so sure, they didn't have a positive outlook if you will of taking and putting everything on the cloud.
Tru: For us it was a new thing because we were full time military. But at the same time we had this business and this vision that we were trying to do. We got traction in terms of car stuff, getting people to put radios and car alarms and things like that into the car. But the more commercial stuff like security that we were offering it was a lot harder to do. You know we ended up closing one deal with somebody and it changed perspective for me. I mean when I closed that deal it was pretty successful. I think for me it kind of made me look back on like alright you know you're taking a step in the right direction.
Jason Cavness [13:02]Ok So it was good to get positive reinforcement.
Tru [13:06] Right
Jason Cavness[13:07]Next talk about something you failed at in the past and what you learned from this failure and what we can learn from this failure.
Tru [13:12 That would be when I tried to close the deal with one of the dealerships out here in the Tacoma area. They had guys that should not have been doing the job that they were doing. I guess you try to save money when you're running a business of that level. But they knew nothing about what we were bringing to the table. I think for them they were wasting a tremendous amount of money because they had an inferior product where you had to buy hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment and then you had to pay for a subscription to even use the equipment.
Tru: Then it was if that equipment that you bought crashed. You had to wait for them to ship you another one. So, you were down for a while and so what we did, we said look we can eliminate all of that. We can put that at probably 25% of the cost that you're paying for the whole thingand make everything streamlined. Your internet will be faster, everything will be faster and more productive than what you're doing now. Those guys were just like no!!
Jason Cavness [14:40] Next talks about how you add value, how to solve problems for people.
Tru [14:49] In terms of what?
Jason Cavness [14:51] Like for Dawg-box, what's the value that is gonna add.
Tru [14:57] You know it's a lot of value. I think in terms of residential, it's a convenience. I think if you can make any product that is a convenience for somebody they're gonna buy it. Like for example: how many people do you know get up and still go turn the TV by hand? [Both laugh]. That is something that's just not gonna happen anymore. You know how they have smart watches now. Where you're telling me I don't have to pick up my phone and see who's texting me or all these other notifications that you can get via watch on you wrist. [15:33] So it's now we where everything is for convenience.
Tru: At night, I stay up so I listen to people when they're taking their dogs out. Not like a creeper type. But you just hear them outside. They're yelling at 3 o'clock in the morning. Hey, you need to go, you need to do this with the dog. Because they don't want to get up at 3 o'clock to take the dog out. You see what I'm saying? For them this is a serious issue. Because if the dog goes in your apartment you have to replace that carpet. You could go and get a rug doctor and try to clean it as best as possible. It may not be visible. But once your lease is over they're gonna pull up that carpet and they're gonna try to see. So that's anywhere up to 2 grand to replace that carpet alone and you know for some people it's not worth it. I know for me it's not worth it.
Jason Cavness [16:29]No it’s not.
Tru[16:30] For a convenience where I can let my animal go out on my balcony and it's an easy cleanup without having to go down 25 stairs at 3 o'clock in the morning. Especially in the state that we stand where it rains a lot, that's a convenience. That’s something worth it. Because in the end I'm not having to go buy a rug doctor to clean my carpet. I'm not having to get up. It's easier for me to get up out the bed and go open my back balcony door and let my dog out. Rather than getting dressed, going downstairs, coming back upstairs and trying to get back to sleep knowing that I have to go to work.
Jason Cavness [17:02] Those are very good points. I think it's safe to say that people would rather search for the remote control 30 minutes up to an hour.
Tru [17:09] Convenience for people is something that they've come to rely on. Like if you don't have a remote. The TV will not be used.
Jason Cavness While looking around for the remote, they could be right by the TV. But they won’t even think about changing the channel. Because they are so focused on finding the remote.
Jason Cavness [17:32] Next, let's talk about someone who's helped you out in the past and how they helped you.
Tru [17:37] Somebody who’s helped in the past. I will definitely have to say that the network that we have in terms of Veterans. You can always rely on other Veterans to help you out no matter what. Like if you take for instance how we met through Bunker Labs https://bunkerlabs.org/seattle or when I went to the University of Washington-Tacoma and we had the vibe competition. We have veterans running that and you know they put you in touch with other veterans. Like Griff from Combat Flip-Flops https://www.combatflipflops.com or GW from Tactical Tailor http://www.tacticaltailor.com or even Tom from the Vibe Center. https://www.tacoma.uw.edu/vibe All these people are instrumental in trying to help you grow and build. You know what I mean?
Tru: I remember when I was in a Vibe competitionand he was like you have a mentor that's in manufacturing. But he was into apparel, he wasn't into manufacturing that I was. I really didn't know this space. So, I was kind of closed off about it and I was just like how is this dude gonna help me? But in reality, he added more value than what I thought. But because you think that they're in a different category it is like okay he can't add any value to what I'm doing. He can't help me with numbers and I was tremendously wrong. So that was that was a big help.
Jason Cavness [19:01]W e do have a pretty good community here as far as vets help each other out.
Jason Cavness [19:06] Next talk to us about something most people don’t know about you. Sure, maybe your closest friends and family know. But something most people would not know about you. That would surprise them about you.
Tru [19:17] I would say my vast knowledge of electronics. Like I told you in the bio, where I built my first computer at 7. I'm pretty good with a lot of different things but I think electronics for me is just, is just where it is. It's like some people will come and you know they'll go out and they'll buy a laptop from Best Buy and it'll be 200 bucks and then two years later. They're having to go spend another 200 bucks to get another laptop. I'd rather just invest into whatever I'm buying and know that it is gonna last me a while. Like the Apple laptop that I have now.
Tru: That laptop was 4 grand but when people say: man why did you spend that much money on a product? I mean you have to look at it long-term. If I went out and I bought a Windows computer versus my Apple computer and let's just say something went wrong like I bought a HP. You could call tech support but what if it was something that they couldn't fix and it was under warranty? You have to send that laptop back in. That could take three to five weeks before you even get that computer back. that's what a lot of people don't understand. You can turn in a laptop and they'll tell you to take the hard drive out before you ship it in. You see what I'm saying?
Jason Cavness [20:42] Yes!!
Tru[20:43] As to where with Apple if you go to the Apple store and you say, I got this problem with the computer, it's under warranty. They're gonna fix it for free and in the time out of a day.
Jason Cavness [20:53]Exactly
Tru[20:54] It’s definitely an investment. Especially in terms of MacBook. You could buy one of those and then three years down the line still be using it. I know people who have been using them for the past six years and don't need to upgrade. So, I feel like for me electronics is a passion for me but more so probably the thing that I'm good at.
Jason Cavness [21:45] That's again a very good point. So Tru we've come to the end of our talk, do you have any last words of advice or wisdom for our listeners?
Tru [21:52] I would say just anticipate the company Dawg-Box being not just a residential but a commercial brand. I don't want to put too much out there and try to do the spoiler alert thing. But we have big plans for this company in general and not just having to do with dogs. When you're doing something in business. You have to try to do the easiest route first. The residential, like I said we will come out with within the next month or so.
Tru: It'll be launching on Kick Starter. But like I said the commercial for the airports and things like that. That's what we're going to hit next. Not just the airports, but also apartment buildings. We want to try to get where we're providing a convenience not just for the apartment. But also for the people living in the apartment. If you had a 20-story building and on every fifth floor you had a dog center with a 10x7 Dawg-Box station in it. Where people could just go and let their dogs go rather than having to go out in the rain. I think that would upsell anybody's apartment building.
Jason Cavness [23:13]I think so too.
Tru [23:15] Like I said the goals for Dawg-Box are big. But we're ready to take on that demand.
Jason Cavness [23:30] It’s good, good to hear. Can you give out you some of your social media platforms?
Tru [23:39] My twitter is my first name Tovargii, my instagram is Tru_soldier and my Facebook is Tru Pugh. You can check out the Instagram for our company page which is is at dawg_box. My dog she has her own page as well. It is at dawgbox_blu. Check her out because she's really the influence behind all this. I hold her to a high regard in terms of helping me get to this point. It's all about making her life convenient, but it's convenient for me as well.
Jason Cavness [24:44]Yes, yes!!
Tru [24:45] The airport is a totally different, a whole totally different situation because I know when I fly there and I go and visit my mother in Georgia. I can't expect my dog to hold it for 12 hours. Like what human is holding it for 12 hours? I personally don't check bags. Because it's a hassle to check bags when you are traveling with your dog.
Jason Cavness Yes, yes!!
Tru It’s easier for me to carry everything. Now granted we've never successfully made it outside for her to actually use it. She's always gone in the airport. But that's the thing I'm trying to change. It'd be a lot easier to have your own dog station that's in the bathrooms right across from the terminal when you come out. I think that'll be a lot convenience for people.
Jason Cavness Yes!! I also like that Dawg-Box has a great Instagram account.
Tru [25:49] See the thing about that is I don't think a lot of people understand the depth of what goes into trying to run a business. I'm literally having to do everything. The social media, those platforms are killing me. It's like you have to constantly update all of that all the time. You know what I mean?
Jason Cavness Trust me I know!!
Tru [26:07] It’s a nightmare. I'll be glad when I can finally hire somebody. Because people are always being engaged by it and it's crazy. I commend you for keeping up on top of yours.
Jason I'm trying. Tru thank you very much for being on the podcast today. We really appreciate it, you gave us a lot of wisdom, a lot of great insights to your business, I know you're gonna do great things in the future.
Tru I appreciate it. Thank you. Thank you.
Jason For our listeners, thank you for your time once again. We really appreciate having you here and remember to be great every day. Thank you.
Social Medial Links below!!!
@dawgbox_blu mascot page
@ tru_soldier person page