This week, we're sitting down with Bailey Duos. Bailey is the owner and CEO of Port City Pups, a full-service pet care facility in Mobile Alabama. Listen to this week's episode to hear her story and why passion is a key ingredient in a successful business.
Produced by Blue Fish
Bailey Duos: I'm Bailey Duos with Port City Pups.
Marcus Neto: Yay! Well, welcome to the podcast, Bailey.
Bailey Duos: Thanks for having me. I'm super excited.
Marcus Neto: Yeah. Well before we get into what Port City Pups is, normally we like to get some backstory of our guests. So, where are you from? Where'd you go to high school? Did you go to college? Did you graduate college? What did you major in? Are you married? Just give us some backstory of who you are.
Bailey Duos: Sweet. Absolutely. Yeah, so I'm actually not a Mobile native. I grew up in Montgomery, Alabama. Born, not born there, raised there. I went to high school at BTW, Booker T Washington Magnet High. It's a art school. I was a big musical theater kid.
Marcus Neto: So singing and-
Bailey Duos: Singing and acting and all that jazz.
Marcus Neto: Very cool.
Bailey Duos: Absolutely. Graduated high school, came to Mobile for school and went to South. Majored in business management and entrepreneurship. Did graduate, graduated in May of last year.
Marcus Neto: Oh, very cool.
Bailey Duos: So pretty recently. I'm not married, been dating the same guy for about four years though. So may be on the horizon, but not right now.
Marcus Neto: If he listens to this, "Hey man, take a hint." Gosh! Well very good. So would you consider yourself a good student?
Bailey Duos: I was a good college student. I had a 4.0 in college, actually. Graduated summa cum laude, but not high school. I mean, I was fine in high school, but not straight A's. So college just came easier to me.
Marcus Neto: Just as an aside, I studied voice in college at James Madison University. And realized that I didn't want to spend six years learning piano as well as learning to become a teacher to go and teach kids that really didn't want to be there. So then the other thing, the whole idea of, music is usually one of the first things that's cuts from the school system if they start running out of money. Those kinds of things., I just didn't want to deal with it. But so you studied at South. How did you find their entrepreneurship program?
Bailey Duos: So-
Marcus Neto: And you're no longer bound by them anymore. So you can speak freely.
Bailey Duos: I loved South and I love all the people involved in their entrepreneurship program. I kind of just fell into it, I guess. I was a business major, which is pretty broad. And then they make you specify, you have to pick a concentration. So your options are like-
Marcus Neto: Marketing, accounting.
Bailey Duos: Exactly. And accounting was out, finance was out, those are just not my thing. So it kind of just, I knew I kind of wanted to start a business, knew I wanted to work with animals. And I was like, "Let's go entrepreneurship." And those classes interested me the most. The professors in those classes, like Dr. Nelson and Dr. Moseley, those guys, I just really liked them and I liked their classes. So I stuck it out with that program. And glad I did so because that's a huge reason I was able to start my business.
Marcus Neto: Yeah. So, and just for, because there may be listening to this that are looking ... We have younger listeners. What kind of studies are part of the entrepreneurship program? What were some of the classes that you took?
Bailey Duos: Sure. Creativity and innovation. You take a lot of creativity classes. So writing a business plan or on the fly, coming up with the crazy business idea. Fun stuff like that where you're working team-based in groups to start businesses, quote-unquote. To start businesses and see how they do. One of the first things you do as a freshmen is pretend play the stock market. Fun stuff like that that you do. And family business classes. Where you kind of have a lot of freedom and a lot of creative opportunities in those classes to play with your own business idea, which is what I did. I developed my whole business idea in college. I had all these eyes on it and tweaking it and was able to present it and pitch it and that kind of stuff. It was just pivotal for me.
Marcus Neto: It's almost an unfair advantage.
Bailey Duos: Sure.
Marcus Neto: No, that's really cool that you were able to do that.
Bailey Duos: Absolutely.
Marcus Neto: Yeah. So let's, before we get to Port City Pups, what was your first job?
Bailey Duos: First job was actually, we can go-
Marcus Neto: Way back.
Bailey Duos: Way back, I actually started a pet sitting company when I was like 13. And I rode my bike to different people in my neighborhood and pet sat for them when they were out of town.
Marcus Neto: Very cool.
Bailey Duos: And I got to tell you, that's cash money, tax free. It's money.
Marcus Neto: That's money.
Bailey Duos: That is. So, I'm 13, riding my bike to all my neighbors house when they're out of town.
Marcus Neto: Here's the news flash, at 13 IRS probably isn't coming after you.
Bailey Duos: Exactly.
Marcus Neto: But I love that you're thinking along those lines.
Bailey Duos: Heck yes.
Marcus Neto: That's too funny, oh my gosh.
Bailey Duos: I was starting a business.
Marcus Neto: Were there any lessons that you remember from that job though?
Bailey Duos: That one, you learn pretty quick how to keep your customers happy. Just learning, for me that was a big thing. I knew I liked animals. And that was a key time in my life where I learned I like taking care of animals to the point where I wanted to do that for the rest of my life. And essentially I still do that. What I did when I was 13, taking care of people's animals, is what I do now.
Marcus Neto: Yeah, you just graduated it to a different level.
Bailey Duos: Yeah. I just turned it into an actual facility type thing.
Marcus Neto: That's pretty cool.
Bailey Duos: You know what I mean, it's the same thing.
Marcus Neto: Well tell us about Port City Pups and how you got started. I mean you gave us a little bit of information about developing a business plan and having some different eyes on it and stuff like that while you were in college. But you graduated, and having those ideas is much different than, I'm assuming, going out and getting some financing or doing something, signing a lease.
Bailey Duos: Yes.
Marcus Neto: Doing all that stuff. So tell us about Port City pups and then how you got started.
Bailey Duos: Sure, absolutely. So Port City Pups is a downtown doggy daycare, that's what we call it, that's our slogan. And we do-
Marcus Neto: And it's located here in downtown?
Bailey Duos: it is. It's on St. Anthony Street, right behind The Cheese Cottage.
Marcus Neto: Very cool.
Bailey Duos: So right in the heart of downtown. A little off the beaten path but still downtown. And we do daycare. So you drop your dog off on the way to work, pick them up after work. We get all their energy out during the day. Helps with socializing them, exercising them, all that kind of stuff. Boarding overnight. It's the same thing but they stay overnight. And right now we do baths. We're thinking about hiring a groomer and trainer on to be a one stop shop for all your pet needs. But we'll get there. I actually started ... Funding was the hardest thing for me because I'm pretty young and banks don't like to lend to startups as it is, let alone if you're 21 asking for money on a dream.
Marcus Neto: Right.
Bailey Duos: So I actually found luck pitching. And that was another thing I got to do in college. I competed in three pitch competitions. Which if you've ever watched shark tank, is a lot like that. Went up and I just told this panel of really fancy people my idea and hoped to win money. And I actually won all three. I won first place in two of them and second place in one of them, which was $16,000 worth of money.
Marcus Neto: Cool.
Bailey Duos: So that kind of gave me that. So when I graduated college, instead of having no money, I had like 16 grand. So I had a little bit to get started with when I went to banks to kind of leverage. I wanted to lease and I was like, "Okay, there's the money to pay that lease while I'm starting" type thing. Started searching for a building. In downtown, that's very hard to find. Buildings are just hard to come by because downtown is growing. Fast forward, a bunch of months searching for a building, finally got that. But they only wanted to sell to me. So I'm 21, I have no money, I can't buy a building. So banks are saying no left and right. Walking in saying, "Hey, I'm 21. Will you fund my startup?" "Heck no."
Marcus Neto: I can imagine the sound of the door slamming shut in your face.
Bailey Duos: Absolutely. Over and over.
Marcus Neto: Kudos to you for persevering because obviously there's a pot of gold at the end of this rain.
Bailey Duos: Absolutely. Absolutely. That's probably my biggest advice is to learn to take rejection. Because there's someone out there. And what happened for me was at the third pitch competition that I did, there was a banker in the audience. He was with United Bank. He was a VP of Commercial Lending. And I placed second and won $10,000 in that competition. And afterwards he walked up and he was like, "Hey, I'm so-and-so. I like you and I like your business. If you want help, give me a call." HE gave me his card. And I did. And he actually funded my renovation. Did not fund my property. They said no. They too told me no on buying a building. But they would fund the renovation.
Bailey Duos: So I had to pull together. I had to beg banks. I had to get a bunch of co-signers. I have both my parents on my loan, both my grandparents. All these people signed, my brother, on it to try to get this mortgage for this building. And then comes a down payment, don't have that. So my parents actually have sacrificed a lot for me. They are a key reason I am able to even run this business. They took the equity out of their house and gave it to me to put down in a home equity line of credit. So it was just a lot of people helping me get here and a lot of people signing some dotted line hoping that I make it that gave me the funding to finally open.
Marcus Neto: No, that's pretty amazing. And I can imagine the pressure that you feel because of that is also kind of spurring you on to be even more diligent, even more focused, even more successful.
Bailey Duos: Absolutely. Getting everyone off the hook for me is a goal. Is a short term goal for me. To get everyone free and clear of me.
Marcus Neto: Right. I don't think ... I don't know, maybe you do. And you said you were 21 when you started this so I'm assuming you're still in your early twenties
Bailey Duos: I'm 22.
Marcus Neto: Okay. To be a land owner in downtown mobile at the age of 22 is-
Bailey Duos: Unreal.
Marcus Neto: Yeah. That's really just amazing. That's awesome stuff.
Bailey Duos: Thank you, I appreciate it.
Marcus Neto: Yeah, congratulations to you. Well, do you remember the first, maybe the first person that came to you and said that they wanted to have you watch their dog? And I'm saying as part of this business. That made you think that there might be something to this. Because you can kind of go through all ... Or maybe, you know what? Go back. Because at this point in time you've already been kind of vetted. Go back to maybe the first time you shared this vision with somebody. Maybe it was a pitch competition or a professor or something like that. That made you think that there was something to this. Can you kind of describe that to us?
Bailey Duos: It was probably, I think that the actual doggy daycare idea probably, I don't think it came to me until college. And I'm sure the first couple of people I shared it with are either my parents or a professor. And my professors, actually I had one who's not there anymore that told me that the market was too saturated. "Pick something else." But all my other ones were super like, "Hey, let's make it work. Downtown Mobile is booming. I think you're good. Let's grind on this and make it happen." So the idea of it being, knowing how lucrative that idea is, everyone shared that passion with me. So I don't remember who the first person was but everyone has been so supportive of it. And just help me get more and more excited about it until it happened.
Marcus Neto: Now, if you were talking to someone that wanted to get started in running their own business, what's the one bit of wisdom that you would impart to them?
Bailey Duos: Probably what I was hitting on earlier. You're going to have to get some thick skin because not everybody is going to share your passion. Not everybody's going to take the chance on you. And you need people. Don't do it alone. I did not do it alone at all. I had a ton of people. From mentors to advisors to financial helpers. I have asked for advice every step of the way. I've used resources that are given to me. So don't do it alone and get some thick skin because people are going to tell you no. And it's not always personal and it might be personal. But you just got to keep moving.
Marcus Neto: Yeah, even if it is personal, if you still believe in it, you still have to move forward and just let it fall off.
Bailey Duos: Absolutely.
Marcus Neto: So, if you look to the business world. Please, I'd love it if it's like your dad or your grandfather or whatever, but I'm talking about the business world, you see somebody's face on a magazine or a book or something along those lines. Is there one person that you look to that maybe motivates you? That you kind of draw inspiration from?
Bailey Duos: That's a tough question.
Marcus Neto: That's why I get paid the big bucks.
Bailey Duos: There is. Okay, so I think from the business side as well as from the animal lover side, because at the heart of my business is a true passion for animals. Pit Bulls & Parolees is a TV show on Animal Planet. Tia Torres is the owner of that rescue center. And I've read her book. She wrote a memoir, it's called, My Life Among the Underdogs. And I read that book recently and she is a huge inspiration to me. I find her one of the most inspirational women. First off-
Marcus Neto: She's a woman.
Bailey Duos: She's a woman.
Marcus Neto: So you can relate.
Bailey Duos: Absolutely. And she runs a rescue, which is arguably one of the hardest things to run. And she fights for, her employees are parolees, they're underdogs. She fights for pit bulls, which are underdogs. I'm a pit bull owner and I have hired a homeless lady that helps me work. So I share that passion of, of helping people that are underdogs as well. And so I do, I look up to her a lot. Especially after reading her book.
Marcus Neto: Yeah. No, that's really cool. Are there any books, podcasts, people or organizations that have been helpful in moving you forward?
Bailey Duos: There is.
Marcus Neto: Besides that one.
Bailey Duos: Right, right, that was a big one. I read another book. It's called, Permission to Screw Up. And I do not remember who it's by, but that book was awesome. It's about a young girl who started a business in college. So another super relatable book for me, story for me. And learned a lot from it. Totally recommend everyone who is thinking about starting a business to read that book.
Marcus Neto: Kristin Hadeed.
Bailey Duos: Yeah, that's her, that's her. Yep. That was a great book. It was a great book.
Marcus Neto: That's really cool. I'll have to add that to my list. And anything else you want to add to that?
Bailey Duos: I do listen to podcasts. But not really. I'm kind of like a, I like true crime podcasts. I don't really listen to any other business podcasts. So probably not on the podcast front.
Marcus Neto: Okay. Now what's the most important thing that you've learned about running a business?
Bailey Duos: Most important thing I've learned about running one. You got to ... Thinking ahead to the future is a big one. So it's really easy to get caught up when you're in the startup phase. We've only been open two and a half months, so we are still very much in that phase. So you kind of get caught up on making it through the day. But you kind of got to keep your eyes on the future. Moving like, how are we going to get to these goals? I'm very goal oriented. So I would recommend always setting goals, short term, long term. And work towards them day by day. And get through the day. But also, where do you want to be in a year? What do you want to be in five years? That kind of stuff is what keeps you motivated to keep going forward.
Marcus Neto: So what are your goals for five years from now? Just one or two, you don't have to tell us all of them.
Bailey Duos: Sure. Five year probably, personal goals, I'd like to buy a house within the next two years.
Marcus Neto: Okay.
Bailey Duos: So that's a short term goal on a personal level. For the business, I'd like to hire a small team of people. Right now I just have my dad and brother working with me, which is awesome. They're two of the most dedicated and loyal men on the planet. So they are incredible. But I'd like to free them of that and have an actual team of employees. That's a goal of mine, pretty short term.
Marcus Neto: Yeah.
Bailey Duos: So that stuff.
Marcus Neto: Yeah, that's very cool. How do you like to unwind?
Bailey Duos: Hiking, camping, hanging out with my dogs. Anytime I get to hang out with just my two dogs and just take it easy is unwinding for me. My dogs are everything to me. So I like to go camping, go fishing. Just hang out, watch TV with my dogs.
Marcus Neto: And what, is there anything that you're currently working on in the business?
Bailey Duos: Like, what do you mean?
Marcus Neto: just in general. For instance here we're working on understanding certain technologies and stuff like that. Is there, you mentioned that you're looking to possibly add grooming services, stuff like that. Anything else along those lines that you're-
Bailey Duos: A couple things. We are big time working on those two things, to add those two services. I'm looking at, summer's coming up and it's really hot down here. So I'm thinking about getting splash pads for the play yards and stuff like that. So other things to up that customer experience for the dogs. My customers are dogs. So for them-
Marcus Neto: That's great. No, it's really cool. Because you want the dogs to be happy, you want them to be socialized. But you want them to go home tired. We used to have this adage that a good puppy is a tired puppy.
Bailey Duos: Absolutely.
Marcus Neto: If you can wear them out, then they have a tendency to not get into all the trouble that they would normally get into.
Bailey Duos: Yes, I tell that to my clients all the time. A good dog's a tired dog.
Marcus Neto: Yep, absolutely. Well, tell people where they can find you.
Bailey Duos: They can find us on our website, Facebook, Instagram, 650 St. Anthony Street.
Marcus Neto: What is the website though?
Bailey Duos: The website is portcitypups.com. And Facebook, Port City Pups. Instagram, Port City Pups. You could type it in, you'll find us anywhere. And we're pretty active on all those platforms. I try to post probably four or five times a week. And I post people's dogs. So when you come you, you will most likely get to see your dog on social media. Playing, jumping around, all that kind of stuff. Which people really like and they share it. And I like, you're sitting at work at your office job or whatever and you see your dog having the best time of their life. It's nice. It makes your day a little bit better.
Marcus Neto: Well, just as an aside. A year or so ago, I was looking through The View magazine, which is the magazine put out by the Chamber of Commerce. And they had this little article in there about the number of projects that were happening and the approximate value of those projects in downtown Mobile. And at the time there were something along the lines of $180 million worth of renovation that was happening downtown. And a good portion of that was residential. People don't invest that kind of money if they don't see something coming. And so, you're in a perfect situation. Granted it's going to suck for a little bit. Because those aren't done yet. But there is this, there are a lot of people that are moving back to the downtown area. There's a number of loft-style complexes, apartment complexes that are opening up down there. But I know here's a number of buildings that should be finishing within the next year or two. And as those residents start to move in it'll be awesome for you.
Bailey Duos: Incredible, absolutely. That was one of the driving forces to, why Mobile? When people ask me that it's like, "It's not Mobile, it's downtown." That's where I wanted it to be. I did not settle. Many times when the struggle for finding a downtown property was happening I was, "Just go somewhere else. Go across the Bay." I didn't want that, I wanted downtown. I saw those apartments coming. And pet ownership, everyone owns a dog now. Millennials are getting dogs before everything else. And that's where I wanted it to be. So hopefully it pays off.
Marcus Neto: Yeah. Well I want to thank you again for coming on the podcast. To wrap up, any final thoughts or comments?
Bailey Duos: Let us know if we can help you with your dog. Absolutely. We take all of them. We get all that energy out. No more chewing the couches and chew in the clothes and all that stuff. We can have them during the day.
Marcus Neto: Chewing all the things.
Bailey Duos: All the things. Yeah, we can eliminate that for you.
Marcus Neto: That's awesome.
Bailey Duos: Absolutely.
Bailey Duos: Well Bailey, I appreciate your willingness to sit with me and share your journey as a business owner and entrepreneur. It's been great talking with you.
Marcus Neto: Thank you very much.