Custom Stuffed Toys – Budsies

custom stuffed toys budsiesEvery kid loves stuffed toys, but Alex Furmansky thinks they'll like Budsies, his custom stuffed toys, even better. He hopes the Sharks feel the same way when he pitches his business in Shark Tank episode 629.

Furmansky got the idea for Budsies from his little sister's artwork. She was always drawing colorful pictures and one day he decided to make a stuffed toy based on one of her drawings. That project became the first of many custom stuffed toys Furmansky made and sold and was the beginning of Budsies as a business.

All a kid has to do is send in a drawing to Budsies and, for $69, they'll make custom stuffed toys out of the design. Turn-around time is a bit long – 11 weeks – so planning ahead is part of the Budsies experience. Each Budsie is 16 inches tall, custom-made, and made with safe, hypoallergenic materials. Budsies markets their custom stuffed toys as “keepsakes,” not stuffed animals, operating under the now proven assumption that kids love seeing their artwork “come to life.”

Budsies is a business with a social conscience, too. They provide free custom stuffed toys for young cancer patients through the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Eastern Pennsylvania. They also work with Easter Seals and welcome inquiries from non-profits who work with children.

It seems their production capacity is either limited or stretched to the point of breaking. The custom stuffed toys Budsies makes are done by hand, which limits output. They either need to hire more people or somehow automate part of their process. Mr. Furmansky likely wants a Shark's cash to help with that endeavor.

My Take on Custom Stuffed Toys

We have stuffed toys coming out our ears after raising five children! While the intake has slowed, there was a time when a birthday or holiday would bring double-digit new stuffed toys into our home. Last year, we donated four HUGE bags full of stuffed toys to charity.

The closest thing my kids ever got to getting custom stuffed toys was a trip to Build a Bear. They all loved the idea of designing and “building” their own toy. The Budsies concept takes things to another level, they toy they produce is actually designed by kids.

I'm not sure if the concept lends itself to retail, but if it did, Budsies could give Build a Bear a run for its money. If it's strictly an online play, it can and will do well. I am IN.

Do Sharks Like it Custom?

The key to Budsies is execution. Sales need to be strong, but without execution, this business is dead in the water. The Sharks will want Furmansky to demonstrate a knowledge of his numbers, but the real issue is can the business model be sustainable?

An 11 week production time is way too long for the Sharks, they'll want to see Budsies produced in less than a month. If he can do that, he could see an offer. If he can't address that issue, Budsies could be dead in the water.

About Rob Merlino

Entrepreneur, auteur, raconteur. Rob Merlino is a blogger and writer who enjoys the Shark Tank TV show and Hot Dogs. A father of five who freelances in a variety of publications, Rob has a stable of websites including Shark Tank Blog, Hot Dog Stories, Rob Merlino.com and more.

Comments

  1. I by chance found Budsies and wanted to get a doll made of our ridiculous two cats for the kids for xmas. The website stated the dolls were $89 , based on some written info and photographs you send. MY money was accepted and when i followed up they said that i needed to go to Petsies, their NEW branch and the orders are overwhelmig. The Petsies cost $187 or something like that. so i decided to order ONE, and asked that they refund what I paid minus the cost of the one. Then my husband felt badly and caved in and said order the other one. So i wrote back saying, how much do i owe if i order a second Petsie at $187 at this point. By now i’ve gotten an email saying all of my money has been refunded by Budsie and that orders for Petsies are so backordered they don’t know when they can fulfill and they actuall cost about $249 a piece. I set about googling other companies that did similar work. There were a handful and they all charged as much or the same and none of them seemed to depict the personality in the photo and written description the way Budsies/Petsies did. In fact Petsies began touting a lottery where the first X people chosen would have their orders filled by xmas. A: Too much money B: Don’t offer a product you can’t deliver on time except for a few lucky lottery winners C: Why the different numbers in the same conversation with one customer? I actually feel uncertain i was refunded now and want to check my paypal. It’s a shame. I really wanted to order from them but there is no way i can spend $250 plus tax and shipping on an 11 or 9 inch stuffed animal.

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