Stuart Fraser: how I turned my idea into a fully-fledged business

In homes up and down the country pets are as much part of the family as any human member. Dog kennels, simple cat mats and pet cages are a thing of the past and owners are on the lookout for more high end products to treat their precious four-legged family members. This is where Stuart Fraser and Simon White step in, co-founders of Bark & Miao Ltd. They produce luxury pet furniture that's been attracting attention all over the globe.So how did they turn their idea into a business with Virgin StartUp loans?

“Sometimes you have an idea, but you’re not sure if it’s been created before, or, if it can be turned into a commercial enterprise.

About five years ago I had one of these ideas, it was for a different type of cat and dog bed, a design that was unique, luxurious and functional. It started in a friend’s kitchen late on Friday night and slowly began to evolve into sketches, papier mache models and eventually real prototype versions. At that stage our idea was born but turning it into a business would be an even bigger challenge, we just needed somebody to believe in what we were doing.

Our journey was originally self-funded, however, there becomes a time where as a business you need investment to grow. We collaborated with Virgin Start up and our idea earned us a £4,000 Virgin StartUp loan.

Having already secured relationships with some London based pet retailers we knew that the US market had great potential. Through on-line research I discovered a high end independent pet store called “Dogbar”, based in Miami, Florida. Following some initial email exchanges and a telephone conversation with the owner, it became apparent that they were interested in selling our product.

Fortunately for us, Virgin Start Up also provided access to the Virgin network of companies, of which Virgin Hotels also expressed an interest in our product. As luck would have it they were also based in Miami. This was an opportunity but we needed the money for flights, hotels and expenses, which was where our start-up loan really helped.

Our meeting with Dogbar was a success, they loved our product and it is now proudly displayed in their store window awaiting pre-orders. Currently we are in discussions for joint marketing, negotiating contract terms and potential distribution.

Like any new start up we needed help both financially and also commercially. This side also came from Virgin StartUp who provided us with a mentor.

We know we have a unique product and now just need to take it to the next stage. Through our creative expertise we have managed to source a supply chain, develop the product from scratch and are now on the verge of bringing it to market.

With the help of a Virgin Startup loan we have developed some key relationships with potential overseas buyers whilst also raising the awareness of our brand. If you are passionate about an idea don’t hesitate just give it a go, you might be surprised at what your capable of!"

For more information about Bark & Miao follow them on Twitter and like them on Facebook.