For Jennifer Williams and Adam Greene, Cuddle Clones started out as a toy company helping people overcome the death of a furry family member. But what Cuddle Clones became is a highly scalable ecommerce startup. Launched in April 2013, the Louiseville, Kentucky-based startup has garnered significant media attention as of late, which, in turn, has tipped sales orders over the edge. Cuddle Clones now faces the challenge of managing high demand.
Simply put, Cuddle Clones creates replicas of people’s pets. Customers send photos of their furry loved ones from different angles, and Cuddle Clones handles the rest. What’s remarkable is how accurate the clones are. Based on some photos, you can barely tell which is real and which is a clone.
The startup’s Plush Cuddle Clones start at US$179 for smaller animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs, and birds, whereas larger animals like dogs, cats and horses cost $249. The startup also offers custom figurines of people’s pets for $99 as well as custom granite memorials for $79.
This may appear expensive, but Cuddle Clones is, by far, a less creepy and cheaper alternative to taxidermying – the process stuffing the skin of dead animals to create a life-like effect. Taxidermying can cost well over $1,000 and the result is far less cuddly.
What inspired the creation of Cuddle Clones is grief. Both Williams and Greene had loved and lost animals before and thought Cuddle Clones would be a great way to help people around the world cope with the loss of their pets.
Greene told Startup Daily that although the death of a pet remains the biggest motivation for people buying Cuddle Clones’ products, they’ve also identified several other consistent customer segments – that is, a young girl going away to college, military deployment and extended hospital or nursing home stay. In all these scenarios, people are having to leave their pets behind.
Since its inception, Cuddle Clones has sold to over 40 countries globally, though the US remains the company’s top market by a wide margin. Greene told Startup Daily that their current month-to-month growth rate is “ridiculous due to a lot of recent media exposure”. In fact, from January to February this year, the startup experienced a growth rate of well over 700 percent. The company’s yearly growth rate is sitting at about 450 percent.
Cuddles Clones has mainly engaged in digital marketing strategies. The company evidently has a strong social media presence, especially on Facebook (78,000+ likes) and Instagram (43,000+ followers). Multimillion dollar brands like Black Milk Clothing and Frank Body have mastered the art of building a mass, cult-like online following. A quick glance at Cuddle Clones’ social media channels would have you convinced that the company has also mastered the same art. This is, of course, helped by the fact that the internet loves animals.
Although it’s all well and good that the media currently loves Cuddle Clones, the company’s greatest pride is its satisfied customers. Greene said, “We regularly get testimonials about how our products are helping people. That’s what we’re most proud of.”
The founders are currently in the early stages of discussing strategic partnerships with companies that have a retail presence in the pet products space, though Greene said nothing is close to being finalised.
He added that Cuddle Clones really wants to become known as the company that can help people overcome the loss of a pet: “That’s really why we started the company and where we think we can do the most good in terms of customer impact and business/brand development.”
Most of Cuddle Clones’ new website features and future products will centre on pet bereavement.