To celebrate the creativity found in businesses across the country, we’re searching for America's Most Unique Business. Hundreds of businesses nationwide entered, and over the past several weeks, 32 have gone head-to-head in a bracket-style tournament.
We’re now down to the final four contestants. Whether they’re unusual, innovative, or stand out from the crowd with one-of-a-kind products and services, each remaining contestant demonstrates the originality that thrives in America’s small businesses. After reading about each one, please vote for who you believe deserves the title of America's Most Unique Business.
Puppy Cake – Evans City, Pa.
Puppy Cake makes all-natural cake and ice cream mixes for dogs. "Puppy Cake seeks to provide a healthy and satisfying treat for dogs and a fun experience for their owners," its mission statement declares. "We use only human-grade and natural ingredients in our products because we believe that Puppy Cake is held to a higher standard. Customer service is a top priority that we take very seriously. We first want to make sure every customer, from consumer to retailer, has a great experience. We stand behind our product 100 percent and will work to ensure satisfaction with every transaction. Our company wants to further the well-being of canines throughout the U.S. by donating a portion of our profits to animal rescue organizations."
Owner Kelly Costello's idea for dog cake mixes earned her an appearance on ABC's "Shark Tank." The reality TV show features a panel of business executives and investors who listen to pitches from entrepreneurs seeking funding for their endeavors.
Although Costello didn't strike a deal with the "sharks," she took their advice to offer products beyond cake. Her business now presents a wide range of dog desserts (with flavors such as maple bacon, peanut butter, and candy cane) and accessories. Cake remains the company's backbone, and Puppy Cake's peanut butter cake mix is the best-selling cake mix on Amazon.com, besting (human) products from Pillsbury and Duncan Hines.
Here's what Costello has to say on Puppycake.com about her TV experience:
"My biggest problem on 'Shark Tank' was that I needed money to attend trade shows to get more stores to carry Puppy Cake. We have attended several trade shows and won some awards, too! We made important connections, resulting in thousands more stores that carry Puppy Cake.
"At the Sharks' suggestion, I added new products to our line: Puppy Scoops Ice Cream Mix, Carob Chip Cookie Mix, Puppy Chillerz, Pumpkin Cake Mix, and Holiday Cookie mix with a bone-shaped cookie cutter.
"Viewers told me that the sharks didn't understand how much people love their pets. One of the statistics I presented on the program showed that dog owners would make personal sacrifices rather than give up anything for their pets. I emphasize that Puppy Cake is the healthy, easy, and affordable way to give your dog a cake — for any reason or no reason.
"When the episode aired, I asked fans to join us in our campaign to show the sharks that they missed out. Fans took control over the outcome of 'Shark Tank' and helped us SMASH our goal of selling 10,000 boxes. Now I have to set my sights even higher! We will be launching several new products over the next year and, I hope, adding 1,000 more stores."
Do you think Puppy Cake deserves the title of America's Most Unique Business? Vote now!