About a month ago our local UPS Rep, Kirk Brandvold, told us about the UPS X-Port Challenge, and urged us to apply. This challenge was for small businesses who were actively expanding their international clientele or beginning to expand. We do already have a strong start in the international market, but of course, want to share The Blissful Dog products with more dog loving people everywhere!
As is my tendency, I over-thought the application and didn't enter immediately. Kirk called the day before it closed and told me to go finish my entry exam and send it in! So, I did just that. A few days later I was delighted to get a phone call from one of the team at the Great Plains UPS Regional offices and we had made the Top Ten!
UPS Regional Management was so supportive, we got several phone calls and emails of encouragement and support. Kirk and Cassandra Baas, International Account Manager, also arranged a conference call to brainstorm ideas. What above-and-beyond support!
I had asked permission to bring Dude, my French Bulldog, as our demo dog and mascot. We had received permission to bring him and were so appreciative. Then, on our call, Cassandra mentioned having Dude wear a t-shirt with The Blissful Dog logo and a UPS patch.
After the call I shared that great idea with Ashley who told me there were actually UPS Dog Costumes for Halloween. Every single shop selling them was out of Large or even Medium sizes! I was aghast! After Googling for over an hour I found one shop online that had a Medium! I ordered it and coughed up the extra to get Next Day Shipping, thinking it would arrive no later than Friday (this was Thursday). It didn't get here until Monday afternoon, so needed to say, I was a raging mess! Yes, it made it, but by no stretch is an order placed on Wednesday with Next Day Premium shipping arriving on the next Monday ok. I'm glaring at you...people at Spirit of Halloween. Rant over.
We made the necessary alterations to Dude's UPS outfit and Ashley, Teri and I headed south to Minneapolis with our front man and fave French Bulldog, Dude!
Thankfully, we were 3rd up to pitch and I gotta tell you, Dude nailed it! That little ham of a Frenchie KNEW everyone was looking at him! He grinned from ear to ear and strutted his stuff to the stage when it was our time for The Blissful Dog presentation. I'm surprised he wasn't blinded by all the flashes as countless photos were taken! Dude nailed his moment!
The five minutes we had to share the benefits of The Blissful Dog went by before I knew it. There was a nice UPS manager guy there smiling and waving and I swear I thought he was letting me know how awesome Dude and were, but I found out later he was waving me that my five minutes of fame was over. Oops.
The presentations were all informative, interesting, and well-planned. Each business owner or representative was excited about their company and enjoyed sharing their product. Of course, I quickly started over-thinking every single word I had said in our presentation, sure I had rambled (maybe I did a little) or said stupid stuff (I probably did). I knew I had kept it 100% SFW - Suitable For Work (my main concern), so that was one less thing to obsess over.
FINALLY, the winners were announced and YES, we were awarded 2nd Place! Not only did we win some way cool prizes, we got to hold a GIANT CHECK! My first question was..."Do I get to keep the giant check?" And yes, we did!
Thanks again to UPS and their entire team who were involved with this challenge. It was a wonderful experience and one I would highly recommend any small business participate in, if available in your region.
Some of the UPS X-Port Challenge prizes are...
Thank you again, to UPS, and everyone who was involved in offering the UPS X-Port Challenge. It was not only fun, but so validating that our pets needs are, indeed, important to people in all walks of life. To think the panel of business leaders and UPS management who were part of our winning second place considered helping dogs look better and feel better important enough to warrant being chosen was so empowering!
PS - Yep, the type is all in UPS Brown, I thought it only fitting!