You are Thomas J. Watson III and your grandfather and father are the men who made IBM IBM. So what do you do for a living? That's right, you sell a meat gravy for dog food.
Aah, but it's not just any meat gravy, Watson will tell you. It's FYDO -- For Your Dog Only -- which, as the label explains, is "formulated by veterinarians to provide real meat flavor and essential nutrients that may be missing from your dog's diet."
When pressed, Watson and his cofounder James Lucchesi concede that, in fact, there really is nothing nutritionally wrong with most commercial dog foods. The problem is getting Spot to eat it. Watson, an attorney by training, was forever adding meat and water to get his hunting dogs to eat -- and if he was having a problem, surely others were, too. He and Lucchesi discussed the matter "over a couple of Heinekens," and faster than you could say Big Blue, Treat Care Technologies Inc., in Stamford, Conn., was born. FYDO, which comes in a plastic squeeze bottle, is available in seven test markets. Total sales are about $200,000 a month.
Who are these people paying $2.69 a bottle to squirt this stuff on their dogs' food? "They're people who really care about their dogs," says Watson, "and who have an anthropomorphic bond with the animal."
Are there enough of them to support a company? Well, according to the founders, at least one-third of the 33 million homes that have a dog consider their pet "an integral part of the household." That's FYDO's market. The company hopes to be national within a year.
Scoff, if you will. But what would you have said about a company that made punch-card tabulating devices in the 1890s?