By DEVIN WEEKS
A pet protection invention created in North Idaho by longtime Coeur d'Alene resident Carolyn Shewfelt will be featured on an upcoming episode of the popular entrepreneur show "Shark Tank."
"It's been a whirlwind," Shewfelt said Thursday. "We didn't know it was going to air until (Tuesday). You don't know because they have so many people on there."
Shewfelt worked as the manager of the Community Action Partnership Coeur d’Alene Food Bank for more than six years, resigning in 2016 to focus on developing her product, the Rocketeer Pack. She began working on it more than eight years ago.
The Rocketeer Pack is a multi-functional harness device that connects to a vehicle like a child's car seat, using custom buckles and anchors that can hold 25 pounds and lighter. It can also be placed around a person so the dog can be safely and snugly strapped to its human during car, bike and scooter rides or long walks.
"The safety thing is huge," Shewfelt said.
A loose dog in a vehicle during a car wreck can worsen an already bad situation. Not only could the animal get hurt, but it could injure others, Shewfelt said.
"People don’t understand the importance of having their dog restrained," Shewfelt said. "We're going into a market that hasn’t been completely tapped yet."
Shewfelt and her business partner, Juls Bindi, the founder of pet product company ZuGoPet, launched the Rocketeer Pack in November 2017. It was featured in the North Idaho Business Journal that December, and the business partners were soon in communication with “Shark Tank” following the tremendous response to the product.
“Shark Tank” contestants pitch their inventions and products to the “sharks” — self-made millionaire and billionaire tycoons — to try to convince them to invest in the contestants and give them funding to turn their dreams into realities.
Shewfelt and Bindi presented their product pitch to the "sharks" with little time to prepare in person because they live in different states.
"It was so much pressure getting ready because they're going, 'We want you here next week,'" Shewfelt said. "I hadn't even slept for three days before because there was so much to do to make sure we had everything."
Although they can't say much about their appearance on "Shark Tank" until the Season 10, Episode 11 airs Jan. 27 on ABC at 6 p.m. PST, Shewfelt said it was a "fabulous experience."
"They were so nice; they were so accommodating," she said. "Being on a national show like that is something people dream about. It's a reality now. It's like, here we are. This is amazing for a relatively new company, even though we've worked really hard on it. We've only been public for a year. It's just exciting to watch the media response. Our piece now needs to be on education and using the feedback from our customers to just go forward."
On her Facbook page, Bindi shared that she feels "blessed" that Shewfelt trusted her with the Rocketeer Pack and that they "make such a great team."
"I've watched this show for many years and always had a feeling I would be standing in front of these moguls at some point in my lifetime,” Bindi wrote. “Visualization, manifestation, faith, hard work, allowing yourself to fall down, but standing back up with grace can get you to your goals.
"Four years ago I wrote on a piece of paper, 'Zugopet is a household name.' I looked at that paper every day by my desk and asked myself, 'What can I do today to get closer to my goal?' Then you do it and the universe provides."