Our Journey to Create the World's Smallest Leash
Our journey to create the world's most convenient dog leash.
Our old fat black lab finally died after an amazing 13 year run. She was more like a human. A smart human. She never needed a leash. She had no interest in other dogs.
It took me a few years before I felt comfortable enough to get another dog. I knew there could never be another Mahktar.
And I was right. Our new puppy was adorable, but not the sharpest tool in the shed.
One day we were hiking in the woods and I was carrying around her wet nasty leash while she romped happily in the mud.
For some reason she got spooked and started heading for home. She normally listened to me, but not on this day. She ran all the way out of the woods to the road and got run over by a car. I watched the tire slowly roll over her entire body as the driver tried to stop.
But somehow she survived. I’m not sure how. It took a while for her to recover, and she definitely learned an important lesson…as did I.
But I started wondering why isn’t there just something there to grab when you need it…
A portion of each order is donated to help end the abuse and mistreatment of our canine friends worldwide.
It seemed like
such a simple idea...
I used to hate leashes. My dog did too.
Can’t we all just be free?
Unfortunately there are some people that don’t agree with us.
They scold us and they put up signs. They fearfully hoist their miniature schnauzer, and angrily glare as we walk by.
We’re not going to hurt anybody. We just want to sniff around.
So we carry around a big cumbersome leash. If we can find it.
We put it on, and then take it off a few minutes later. And then put it back on.
Or we get lazy and let our furry friend drag it around for a little while.
And then she pees on it.
Then we throw it in the back seat and try to remember where it is for next time.
There’s got to be a better way, I thought one day as a neighbor scolded me angrily from his porch.
Ninety percent of the time, Ginger doesn’t need a leash. But when she does, I just want to be able to reach down and grab it. That’s it.
It seemed like such a simple idea.
But it was far from simple.
I soon discovered there’s a reason why this hasn’t been invented.
Dogs can be strong, and they pull. With the available technology, leashes have to be thick and bulky to keep from breaking. Especially retractable leashes.
I hired an engineer. We worked for months on the design. It was okay, but it could never hold up to real canine strength.
I made some modifications and hired another engineer. More broken prototypes.
Months would go by. More tweaks, more modifications.
I would wait at the mailbox for the latest prototype to arrive.
This is the one. I would excitedly think to myself as I snapped it onto my dog and headed down the street for another test.
Sometimes it would last for a day, sometimes a week, sometimes only a few minutes.
But the end result was always the same. I would send the prototype back to the engineer, and go back to the drawing board.
I hired another engineer, and paid thousands of dollars for new molds.
I think we finally figured it out, I told my wife.
I approved what I thought was the final prototype. After more than two years of development we finally began manufacturing.
I started working on packaging and preparing for launch.
My wife took our dog for a walk. When she returned, the prototype was stuck and no longer functional.
“We can’t sell this.” I said to the manufacturer. “How can we fix this?”
The engineer offered suggestions. I sent my own suggestions to the manufacturer. We paused manufacturing while their team brainstormed and experimented for several more months.
“We can’t do it.” was the response I finally received. “What you’re trying to do is impossible.”
The manufacturer was dumping the project.
I was defeated. And broke.
I gave up.
I reluctantly moved onto other things.
Everyone got to tell me that 'they told me so.'
But the idea wouldn’t let me go.
Elon Musk is going to get to Mars, but it’s impossible to make a tiny retractable dog leash? That doesn’t make sense. I would think to myself.
I had to give it another shot.
That’s when I found Bryan—a young engineer with an abundance of energy and a new way of approaching the problems.
“I want one of these for myself.” He said. He was excited about the product and the possibilities.
That’s what it would take. Someone who shared a vision for a world without long bulky dog leashes. A world of canine convenience.
He worked tirelessly for a year and a half.
More tweaks, more failures, more broken prototypes.
A $600 spring, a redesigned case, maybe a new clip will help.
More broken prototypes.
But he never gave up.
Seemingly small tweaks would take weeks...months. We ordered custom made parts from from all over the world.
We redesigned the entire product—inside and out.
The persistence finally paid off.
Thousands of hours and thousands of dollars packed into the form of a simple, three ounce leash that is strong enough to tow a truck.
Ginger loves it, and so do I.
Now we've replicated Lazy Leash for everyone to enjoy...
OH WAIT! Never mind. After I wrote this, we had another full year of unexpected manufacturing and production chain nightmares.
...But we finally persisted and NOW customers and dogs all over the world are loving the product we created!
Thanks for reading about our journey, and thank you for your support!
Dave Alexander is an entrepreneur and designer from Charleston, SC. Bryan Goings is an engineer from Fort Collins, CO specializing in consumer product design.