The idea for LeashLocket leash was born on the 4th of July 2009 when Dave and Val Marshall went camping in the Colorado Rockies with their kids, Dirk and Aly, and their favorite neighbor family. The neighbors had brought along their Schnauzer, Xena, and at one point Xena wandered into another campsite. A man there began yelling at the Marshalls and their neighbors, and Xena’s owner ran to grab her dog. But she hadn’t had time to get Xena’s leash, and was forced to drag her pet away by the collar. Sitting by the campfire later that night Dave had a sudden flash of insight:

“Why not have a retractable leash that could be carried right on the dog’s collar when you want your hands free or want to let the dog run without the leash?” he said to his fellow campers. “Then you could just grab it and go when you need it!”

“Sure,” Val chimed in. “It would be kind of like a leash in a locket – hey, we could call it LeashLocket!”

With that moment of joint inspiration, the LeashLocket journey began. The Marshalls went back home to Denver and Dave did a patent search on the internet and reviewed dog walking sites to see if he could find any kind of retractable dog leash similar to the one he envisioned at Glenwood Springs.

“I was amazed, but there was absolutely nothing,” he recalls. “It just defied reason that there wasn’t anything out there like it.”

So the Marshalls set to work on the creative process. They found Dirk’s modeling clay and designed the first prototype. At the same time, Dave started talking with friends and business associates about his idea. He pulled in his attorney Josh Steiner to mull the legal issues of inventing and marketing a leash, and approached his friend Kevin France, a consultant with significant entrepreneurial start-up business development experience.

More than two years have flown by since that first a-ha moment on the 4th of July, and there hasn’t been any down time. The LeashLocket board held its first official meeting in January 2010 with a patent attorney who assured them LeashLocket had several patentable elements. Val, now LeashLocket’s president and director of marketing, worked with Kevin, now director of business & strategy development, to put together the LeashLocket  business plan and financial model. Kevin also spearheaded investment activities with Josh and got to work on setting up manufacturing processes in China .

Dave, LeashLocket’s CEO, spent most of his off-work hours out in his garage, testing and retesting each component, making repeated adjustments to pieces that were sometimes the thickness of a human hair, and redesigning with the team as necessary.

“We just had to keep tweaking itty-bitty, minuscule things, because we wanted this product to be safe,” Dave said. “We wanted it to have a lock – I told myself that if I couldn’t make the leash lock, then I just wouldn’t do it.

Fast forward through months of further improvements, fundraising, website development , legal legwork and network building, and we arrive at June 2011. That’s when Bureau Veritas independent testing confirmed that even the small version of LeashLocket, designed for dogs weighing up to 55 pounds, could withstand a pull force of 170 pounds. The large LeashLocket, designed for dogs up to 90 pounds, withstood a pull force of over 280 pounds. That was when Dave and his team gave the go-ahead to throw the switches at the LeashLocket factory in Guangdong, China, and on July 14, 2011, they welcomed their first box of blue, red, black and pink retractable dog leashes at LeashLocket headquarters at 2442 South Downing Street in Denver.

The rest of the LeashLocket story is now a work in progress. The first LeashLocket ads are to be run in the September issues of pet magazines and trade show publications, and LeashLocket is scheduled for its public commercial debut at the SuperZoo pet industry trade show in Las Vegas September 12-15, 2011. After that show, we expect LeashLocket to start appearing in retailers across America. Keep an eye out for LeashLocket at a pet product retailer near you or order one here online at www.leashlocket.com/leashlocket-products!

Thanks for joining the LeashLocket revolution!