When Heidi Ganahl was 27 years old, her husband died in a plane crash. While the insurance money she collected could have been the key to her financial future, she lost nearly all the money in unsuccessful investments. With her last $83,000, she decided to try something new.
It was her passion for animals that stirred her entrepreneurial longings and drove her to open her own business – Camp Bow Wow. The Denver-based long-term and daycare facility for dogs takes the boarding kennel concept to new heights by allowing dogs them to play and exercise during their visits. Ten years later, Camp Bow Wow has 200 franchises in the United States and Canada.
The company was named one of Inc.’s 500 fastest-growing private companies for 2010. Ganahl has also created a charitable organization called Bow Wow Buddies Foundation.
She tells BusinessNewsDaily how she got started and what she’d do differently next time.
BND: How much was the initial investment?
H.G.: About $100,000. The company was originally financed privately using my last remaining savings of $83,000, left over from my husband’s life insurance settlement. My brother also helped out a bit with startup costs.
BND: Is the company profitable yet?
BND: How many locations do you have?
H.G.: 200 franchises sold, 160 open.
BND: Why did you decided to get into this business?
H.G.: Love animals and love helping others start a business they are passionate about and can make a great living at!
BND: What's the biggest business mistake you've made?
H.G.: Not being well capitalized.
BND: How do you find your customers? Do you use social media?
H.G.: Web, word of mouth, PR – yes, we are big on social media.
BND: Who or what is your biggest competitor?
H.G.: Potential clients using family and friends instead of us.
BND: If you had it to do over again, what would you do differently?
H.G.: Start with three times as much cash as I thought I needed, and be cautious around hiring family/friends.
BND: How do you decide on where your location will be?
H.G.: I am from Colorado and went to the University of Colorado at Boulder for college – great dog town!