By Steve Tarter Journal Star, Peoria, Ill.
Tori Huang has a business plan that involves dogs and jogs.
Dog Jog Peoria is her plan to match dogs that need more than just a walk in the park with area joggers who might want some company as they run through town.
"Right now, I'm doing most of the leg work," said Huang, 24, who moved to Peoria earlier this year from Chicago. "First, I need to line up dogs then I'll get runners involved," she said.
Huang pointed to the help she has received from members of Startup Peoria, the area springboard for entrepreneurs, to formulate plans for Dog Jog.
"People at the Nest came up with the name," she said, referring to the think tank/conference room located above the Sugar restaurant in the Peoria Warehouse District.
Having worked at Siemens in Chicago for two years, Huang came to Peoria to be with her fiancé, a mechanical engineer for Caterpillar Inc.
"If I can do it, I want to do it here," she said of her dog-running plan which she visualizes as a website allowing runners and dog owners to interact.
Huang's love of running with dogs began when her family adopted their first dog, Archie, from a local humane society. Since then, she has trained with many different breeds while staying fit herself, running in triathlons, marathons and obstacle course races.
Her website, dogjogpeoria.com, points out the importance of running for a dog: "Are you ready to invest in your dog's health? It's not only people who require regular exercise to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Active dogs need 30-60 minutes of intense aerobic activity most days, preferably daily, to stay in shape."
But organizing all that exercise is no easy matter. Huang finds herself making the rounds of veterinarians, pet shops and stores like My Dog's Bakery in Metro Centre in order to promote the new enterprise.
"I'm using social media to get the word out but I don't know if I'm using it properly," laughed Huang, who plans to sponsor a weekly dog run in conjunction with Running Central, the riverfront athletic shoe outlet.
Eventually she hopes to make Dog Jog a paying business that would reward runners who sign up to take an area dog for a run.
But Huang is aware of the risks posed in any startup. She not only has a plan B but plans C and D, as well.
"Plan B would be to start a medical device company, another entrepreneurial effort. That would be following up in what I did in Chicago," she said.
"Plan C is to get a job with a big company while plan D would be to go back to school," said Huang, who's not letting all the planning interfere with her running.
This week, the Purdue University graduate headed off to Lake Geneva to participate in a decathlon.