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GREEN OAK TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WXYZ) - Four years ago, Megan Foster had to convince her mom and dad to let her get a couple of guinea pigs. Good thing she did, because those guinea pigs may just pay for her college education.
Cocoa and Ginger, Megan's guinea pigs, are messy eaters. She soon found out they would often tip their bowl while they were eating.
"At first I thought it was really cute, but then I had to clean it up so it wasn’t so cute!"
It was also a waste of money because guinea pigs are finicky, and won't eat kibble once it spills.
Megan's dad is in product development, so she turned to him to help find a better solution. The two worked together to come up with STAYbowl, a plastic tip-proof bowl with a wide base. They've applied for a utility patent on the product.
Not knowing anything about marketing, the two turned to mom, Janice Karlovich, to get their product in the hands of people who were frustrated by the same messy, feeding issues. With the help of the internet and social media, the Foster family has sold thousands of the bowls, which now come in the smaller 1/4 cup original size, and now a larger size, perfect for vegetables or if you have a number of guinea pigs in the same cage. It also works for dogs and cats because an added silicone ring around the bottom keeps it in place on smooth surfaces.
With any small business, it's a process to turn a profit, but the Fosters are getting there.
"We think this year in 2017, we’re going to pay for all the tooling we’ve had and all our inventory. And I think around 2018, it’s very likely that it could pay the bills," Ken Foster says. "Or as we’re hoping, maybe it will pay college for the kids which is coming up in 3 or 4 years."
So it looks like two little guinea pigs that Megan had to convince mom and dad to get, will pay dividends they never could have imagined.