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for animals would have the same strict requirements for quality, safety and ma- terials that products for children have,” she adds.


Patents in Place and Yet. . . .


ina Ottosson


The Dogs Made Her Do It Nina, a Bouvier des Flandres lover from way back, had two Bouviers that she trained and competed with in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Then,


when Nina’s two children were born, the dogs’ high level of activity came to a stop.


Feeling guilty about the Bouviers’ lack of exercise and stimula- tion, Nina fell on the idea of creating simple, fun puzzles that both her dogs and children could enjoy indoors. Before she knew it, Nina found herself developing and training dog-activity toys and games. She founded her company, Zoo Active Products AB in 1993.


“My philosophy is that the dog has four legs and one head, and all five need activity in different ways.”


Developed by Dogs


One of the things that sets Nina’s business apart is the integral part her two dogs play in it.


“I design and develop all products by myself together with dogs and NOT with a computer. I study dogs and other animals and use their natural instincts, behavior and movements when I de- sign, for optimal function and safety,” she explains.


“My dogs first test the very simple prototypes I make (and they love doing this). If this goes well, we create a better prototype to test on other dogs/cats as well. Also, I only use high-quality materials for safety and durability reasons. I wish that products


It’s a sort of industry thievery that presents a big challenge for Nina; large companies copy her products. “Even though there are valid patents in place, it is very costly for a small company to pro- tect and defend the patents, something that the larger corporations of course take advantage of,” she adds. “Unfortunately the rules that surround patents are mainly geared toward large corporations. An- other challenge is running my own factory.”


Gone to the Dogs


“What motivates me the most,” emphasizes Nina, “and what I abso- lutely enjoy the most is to develop new products together with my dogs! It is quite a long process, but it is such a great feeling when a new product is finally ready for release – it’s like Christmas for me!


“I love every step of the way, from coming up with ideas to figur- ing out and improving the details until it is just the way I want it, then finally being used by my dogs as well as a lot of other dogs!


“My business is more than just a job, it’s a lifestyle. Therefore, it’s very important that the dogs can be with me at the office. Other- wise, it would never work, since I work odd and long hours!”


The Marketing Puzzle


“Facebook has been a great way to connect with people all over the world who are using my products,” says Nina. “They share pictures and videos, and I, as well as other customers, get great feedback and tips.


“Happy customers are the best marketing tool! Print advertising is a little more difficult, since my products are being sold in so many different markets all over the world.


“In order to be successful, you need to market and sell something that you really believe in and can stand by. You need to be stubborn as well as inquisitive. Research your market in different countries, distribution is a key ingredient to success.”


Contact Nina Ottosson at 465-863-0034 or info@nina-ottosson.com


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