Jessica Yergin found her future-business partner, and the inspiration behind their joint venture, on Instagram. Christie Catan had developed an active social media account for her dog Otis, documenting his unique personality and her mission to train him herself. As Yergin and Catan became friends bonding over their love for Otis, the two had a lightbulb idea – with so many people adopting dogs and subsequently needing to train them – why not create an online platform where dog owners can connect for support and get instructional videos on how to train their pets from home? Tails of Connection was born. Today the Washington DC-based duo are focused on growing their business and their thriving Instagram presence, which already has close to 15K followers.
Yergin & Catan’s story, as told to The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project:
My co-founder, Christie Catan, has an 80 pound dog, Otis, who was afraid of everything including feathers. After spending thousands on training he wasn’t improving. She vowed to train him herself. She was overwhelmed by the training content online and wasn’t sure what she could trust, so she decided to self-educate and train him herself for five minutes a day. Otis has 200k followers on Instagram (@Otis_Unleashed) and his followers (including me – Christie and I met through IG and became friends because I loved Otis) were blown away as he transformed before their eyes. She was flooded with training questions and when she told me her idea to build a dog training video platform (given my background in news production and digital content) I jumped at the idea and encouraged her to go into business with me.
I would love to scale our community so we can help as many dog owners as possible. So many people bought puppies and adopted rescue dogs during the pandemic and once the reality of raising a puppy or a rescue dog sets in, the puppy blues is real! I want people to know they’re not alone and having an imperfect dog is not only ok but it’s absolutely normal and actually, perfect. Dogs teach us so much about patience and grace. If you’re struggling we have a whole community to help you get through the tough times and celebrate your wins with your dog.
When we launched Camp TOC, a product that we built entirely during the pandemic, we quickly replicated the success of the Challenge (our first product), and even sold more of the Challenge which was pretty awesome. Aside from that, it’s the little messages we get from our customers every day that matter much more than money and numbers. Their success stories with their dogs give us so much joy.
Our top challenge is definitely growing without taking investors. We are planning on launching another product in the next quarter or so that is very mainstream and we hope that given our platform’s growth, we will see great sales.
In terms of role models, I really admire Alexa von Tobel. We met her before we’d launched anything and she gave us so much tough love which was so generous. I’m excited to show her what we’ve done so far one of these days.