- Associated Press - Sunday, August 16, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - One young student is trading dog waste for a diploma - hoping to poop-scoop his way into a business career.

Bismarck native Tyler Colby, along with girlfriend, Samantha Mendoza, both 19-year-old students at Bismarck State College, started The Pet Maid, a pet waste-cleaning business, at the beginning of July to help raise money to pay for school.

They have raised enough to pay for most of their books already, checking the first thing off their list of goals. Now they have their sights set on tuition, Bismarck Tribune (https://bit.ly/1JaPYp1 ) reported.

When Colby and Mendoza had recently gotten a new dog, he noticed there didn’t seem to be a pet waste service in town.

“I thought maybe we can get business,” he said. “If we’re willing to do it, you know there are going to be people that are not willing to.”



That is what Colby is banking on to grow his customer base. He has eight clients right now, and they have seemed pleased with his work.

Colby has class from 9 a.m. to noon. His other job has a flexible schedule, and most of his Pet Maid clients ask him to come before 7 a.m. or after noon, allowing him to juggle the workload. Mendoza also has afternoons off. If one can’t make it, the other will.

One of Colby’s clients is his uncle. He’s a doctor, has a son who plays sports and his busy schedule matches those of the clients Colby hopes to attract.

“The ‘busy-ness’ of Bismarck made me want to do it,” Colby said. “It could give them (clients) an extra 30 minutes with their kid if they’ve been at work all day.”

Colby and Mendoza charge $15 per week for one dog for yards less than 1.8 acres. It’s $5 more for extra dogs. If booked for four visits, there’s a discount - $50 for all of it. It takes them about 10 minutes as a team or 20 minutes solo.

For yards in the 2-acre range, there is a surcharge and they team up so it doesn’t take as long. Larger yards on the outskirts of Bismarck-Mandan are charged based on time commitment and are cleaned maybe once a month.

They pick up dog waste in a grid pattern, so as not to miss anything, and use a rake, so they don’t damage the grass. The waste is raked directly into a bag attached to a scoop. When a yard is finished, the bag is sealed to trap any fumes and is either thrown in the client’s garbage or taken along to be disposed of later if the pet owner prefers.

Colby plans to continue, even through the winter, rescheduling around snowfall as needed. If demand grows, his brother and cousin are waiting in the wings to join the business, so they won’t have to turn down any new clients because they’re too busy.

“The sky is the limit,” he said. “We don’t want to cap it on anything.”

Colby’s interest in business is long-standing. The stock market and real estate interest him. In high school, he sold tie-dyed socks, T-shirts and marketed friends’ businesses for them.

“I’ve always done little small businesses here and there,” he said.

After BSC, Colby has plans to go on to a four-year university to finish his degree, probably University of Mary since it’s close. Mendoza is studying nursing. Colby doesn’t know what aspect of business he will go into after college but being self-employed is important to him.

“Really, it’s kind of wide open right now,” he said.

His current venture is preparing him for that.

Most of what he is doing with Pet Maid ties in with what he’s learning in school. He says his accounting classes have been most helpful. Marketing classes have helped, too. He plans to try to file his own business income taxes this year.

“I want to try to do it by myself so I can learn,” he said.

Colby said a young accountant will have seen real numbers.

“When you first graduate, the only thing you’ve seen is what’s in your book,” he said.

Colby’s two uncles own businesses, and he said they think it’s great that he’s trying one of his own at a young age. He said they told him, even if he only has 10 clients, he will learn from the experience for the future and take away lessons in such areas as customer relations.

Mendoza agrees.

“I think it’s awesome he’s so young and actually doing this,” she said.

___

Information from: Bismarck Tribune, https://www.bismarcktribune.com

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