July 16, 2024


Discover The Difference

Katy second grader reaches business goals one puppy treat at a time

Last summer, 7-year-old Isaiah Hodge decided he wanted an electric unicycle. When his dad told him he’d have to pay for it himself, Isaiah launched a successful dog treat business.

The Rylander Elementary second grader from Katy has since sold around $1,000 of his Puppy Dough treats at $5 per dozen.

As Isaiah realized he needed $650 for the unicycle, he enrolled in Kidpreneurs, a program for children who want to start a business. He spent a couple of weeks learning and considering business ideas. His dad, Jason Hodge, suggested growing and selling watermelons, but Isaiah grabbed onto the idea of making goodies for dogs.

Although Isaiah’s maternal grandfather trained dogs in the military, Isaiah and his family don’t actually have a dog. Hodge thought it was a little funny when Isaiah decided to center his new business around pups.

“I really like dogs, so I think that the dog treat idea would be good for me,” Isaiah said.

Puppy Dough comes in molded squares made from peanut butter, banana and coconut flour. Isaiah decided on the recipe because the three ingredients together have a firm consistency, and the process can be done all by Isaiah, who doesn’t cook or bake yet. Since he is allergic to peanut butter, he wears gloves and a mask as he works.

Isaiah typically sells a few dozen treats a week. Finishing two dozen takes about an hour. He said flattening the dough into the mold is hard work. Homework always comes first on weekdays. Isaiah does most of the work on weekends, when he has more time.

The Puppy Dough venture has taught Isaiah life and business lessons. Occasionally, Isaiah makes a bunch of treats and does not work to promote them as well, so some of the treats go bad before he can sell them. His dad says that’s OK: Isaiah is 7 and at times, just wants to be a child.

Isaiah has learned about purchasing decisions as well. At first, he wanted a Onewheel, which is like a skateboard with one wheel, because his uncle has one. That costs around $1,000 though. Isaiah opted instead for the less expensive unicycle.

By around September, Isaiah had saved up the $650. He said riding the electric unicycle has been his favorite part about selling Puppy Dough. He and his dad go on rides several miles long, and he is now learning to go backward. They sometimes join a group in Houston.

“It feels good, and now I’m starting to get, like, the hang of it because we went to the Houston ride thing. And now I’m able to ride in gravel and the concrete and go over bumps,” Isaiah explained.

Delivering the treats to people’s homes and meeting their dogs is also a highlight for Isaiah. One of his first clients liked the Puppy Dough so much that it jumped onto him. Now, Isaiah is sometimes a little weary of big dogs.

Over the summer, the Katy Area Chamber of Commerce welcomed Isaiah as its youngest member. Isaiah hasn’t been to any meetings yet because of COVID-19 precautions, but he plans to have a booth at the B2B Business Expo in April.

“I think Isaiah is an incredible asset to our community, not just our chamber. His entrepreneurial spirit should inspire anyone that has a dream to benefit their community,” said Matthew Ferraro, Katy Area Chamber of Commerce president and CEO.

Hodge owns Medical Fitness Pros in Katy and wanted his son to learn how to make his own money, so he encouraged Isaiah to start a business to buy that unicycle himself.

“He’s a smart kid, and he gets bored really easily and needs to be challenged,” Hodge explained. “… So I felt like something like owning his business would teach him how a business runs: costs, expenses and just understanding what it takes for something like that to happen.”

Hodge said watching the business take off and people supporting it has been an interesting experience and something positive amid the pandemic.

He keeps in mind that Isaiah is young and doesn’t want the business to get too big. Over Thanksgiving and Christmas, Isaiah had orders for about 20 dozen treats. His parents helped so that he didn’t get overwhelmed.

“He did good. He came up with the name himself. I mean honestly, he’s done a lot of it himself. I’ve helped him with little things along the way, but he took a lot of initiative,” Hodge said.

Puppy Dough is available on Facebook and Instagram and at Waggin’ Tails Pet Ranch in Fulshear. Isaiah donates 10 percent of his profits to Boys & Girls Country of Houston.

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