Durham dog treats maker drooling over prospect of Super Bowl ad
Posted January 20, 2014
Durham, N.C. — Barley Labs could be big business come next month if the Durham-based maker of organic dog treats wins coveted commercial air time during Super Bowl XLVIII.
Intuit Inc., an accounting software provider, hosted a contest to provide a small business with a free 30-second ad during the Super Bowl and drew some 15,000 entrants. The public and Intuit employees voted and whittled the field down, and Barley Labs is among the four finalists.
"Literally, a wall of people showed up at our house – knock! knock! – to let us know that we were in," company co-founder Theresa Chu said Monday. "It's exciting. It's overwhelming."
The winner will be announced at the end of the month, so Chu and boyfriend and Barley Labs co-founder Scott Beaudry couldn't go into detail about their ad. Ads for the three finalists that don't win the Super Bowl spot will be aired on the Fox Sports Network.
Beaudry, 39, a data analyst at North Carolina State University, came up with the idea of organic dog treats two years ago as a way to dispose of leftover barley grains from his hobby of brewing beer at home.
"I think it's pretty straightforward – we love beer, we love dogs. I think a lot of people love beer and dogs," Beaudry said.
He and Chu, 33, a communications specialist at a Durham nonprofit, mixed up batches of biscuits in cheese, pumpkin and peanut butter flavors, naming their start-up after their dog, Barley, which now is vice president of quality control for the treats.
"It's a simple, all-natural product that I think people can really get behind feeding their dogs. Their little 'fur children' deserve good treats," Beaudry said.
Chu said they were able to sell some online and get onto some store shelves because of a move among pet owners to know what their dogs and cats are eating. But the Intuit contest generated more business as the company survived one elimination round after another.
"Just from the exposure from the contest, we have gained retailers from outside North Carolina that we never thought we would get," she said.
In anticipation of a flood of orders after the Super Bowl, the couple is scouting out manufacturing facilities in Durham.