Dog-G8: One small business’ journey to Tiktok success

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Born from over 20 years of pet care experience, the Dog-G8 company is a dog loving family business that designs high-quality, British-made, concertina dog safety gates. Started by father and son, Peter and Chris Maxted in 2019, the small business now ships to customers across the globe and boasts an impressive 150 million views on their social media channel. Discover how their small business became a TikTok sensation.

Starting out

Retired fire fighter, Peter Maxted, invented the concertina dog safety gates after joining his wife, Julie, in the family pet care business. Creating Dog-G8’s unique product portfolio took over a year of research and development to design the ideal dog safety gates. After graduating from university, Chris joined the family business and the pair launched Dog-G8’s e-commerce platform in September 2019.

“Naively we thought there was going to be instant sales”, Chris explained, but it took the pair roughly two weeks before their first sale came through. “I remember we were in the kitchen, and we heard the sale notification, we were both so elated.” The sale came from a resident in a neighbouring village ten miles away. Delighted by the first sale of his invention, Peter drove to the customer’s house to hand deliver their new purchase.

Dog-G8 took to the road to visit several dog festivals including Crufts, the world-famous dog show run by The Kennel Club. “In the early days when people would visit our website, it took a long time to build up that trust and reputation to convert customers” Chris recalls. “Shows are quite important for the business as they make people aware that we are a genuine dog-friendly family business”.

Their e-commerce store has been essential for helping them reach their new customers post-shows. “This period is a busy time for us as invariably people like to go home, measure up, see if the product works for them and purchase through our website.” 

Tiktok trending

“One of the biggest achievements by far is going viral on social media,” said Chris, “the views came as a real surprise, I must admit”. After numerous failed attempts to conquer the social media algorithms, Dog-G8’s TikTok channel has now amassed over 115,000 followers and 5 million likes organically, through compelling storytelling videos.

Social media platform, TikTok, has become a powerful tool for small businesses, as the algorithm is not based on the number of followers an account has, instead recommending content based on user engagement. “It’s never been a better time to go viral because of the way social media algorithms are changing, from my experience it just requires patience and consistency”, Chris says. 

Reaching international markets

Although Dog-G8 initially intended to build their brand within the United Kingdom, social media has helped them discover their international opportunities. Accounting for 20-30% of sales, the United States has become their largest export market. “Shipping to the US has been very easy and DHL has been genuinely excellent” Chris explains, “our American customers leave glowing reviews thanks to the speed of service provided”.

In the US, its estimated that 44.5% of the population own a dog, helping explain why this is a thriving export country for the Dog-G8 company. With prominent dog and motorhome shows such as the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, the US has proved to be a largely untapped market for further growth opportunities.

The Dog-G8 company has also sold to other international destinations - Canada, Puerto Rico and Qatar to name a few. The shipping process has been “very straightforward”, as Chris describes it, having integrated their Shopify platform with DHL shipping technology.

As for Dog-G8’s international expansion plans, Chris’ future dream would be to expand in the US and New Zealand. But for now, the pair are looking to scale up their current enterprise with a move to new premises in June 2024 and to grow their international orders.

Dog G8 Safety Product for Dogs. Horsham West Sussex. Photography by Sophie Ward Photography. 16-10-2019

The big pitch

By 2022 Dog-G8’s sales had grown an impressive 415% from the previous year, but Chris and Peter had ambitions to grow their business further. The company’s big break came in February 2023, when they featured on an episode of BBC One’s Dragons Den.

The small business had the opportunity to pitch their business model to Britain’s leading industry moguls for a chance to secure lifechanging investment. With many of the ‘dragons’ intrigued in their invention; it was entrepreneur Deborah Meaden who was eager to invest in the family business.

“Dragon’s Den was certainly such a big achievement for me”, Chris recalls, “I’m very proud of the fact that we’ve done that”. The night the episode aired the Dog-G8 company received their highest recorded number of sales and social media views: “an instant effect” as Chris describes it. “I still haven't really had time to celebrate as we’ve been so busy.” 

Chalk it up to experience

The road to success doesn’t run smoothly, but as Chris tells it Dog-G8 is “still learning”. So here are two essential pieces of wisdom Chris has taken from building the small family business.

1.  The importance of quality.

For Dog-G8 quality is essential: “We want the highest standards of product available for our customers”.

Six months after launching, the pandemic hit bringing an unprecedented level of challenges and uncertainty for them and the rest of the globe. The Dog-G8 company placed a small order with a different supplier: “we knew instantly as soon as the stock arrived it was a mistake, the quality wasn’t good enough for us. Luckily, we were able to quickly revert to our original supplier who we have an excellent relationship with to this day.

2.  Invest in your social media.

With e-commerce growing significantly in popularity, investing in your social media is now more relevant than ever.

Having created numerous high-quality videos in the past that haven’t been as successful, Chris advises “if you’re ever making content, don’t be the judge of that content, let your audience decide”. Since starting to focus more on their social media content, the Dog-G8 company grew their TikTok base from scratch to a 44,000-follower base and 27.7million views by 2022. Dog-G8 has over 66,000 followers on Facebook and 31,000 on Instagram, with a recent video on Instagram receiving 19 million organic views.  

On the bad days where challenges become overwhelming, “it’s the little inklings of belief, like a five-star review or a social media video which receives a high number of views, that really help with my motivation” Chris explains. 

If your small business is looking to unlock its international potential just like the Dog-G8 company, talk to us about how DHL Express can support with your shipping requirements.