Did you know that 53 percent of pets in the U.S. are considered overweight or obese? It’s hard to keep track of the ideal quantity of food as your dog or cat ages and their metabolism slows down. Plus, as busy pet owners, staying updated on the latest food recalls can prove impossible.
North Carolina-based Petrics wants to help you stay on top of your four-legged best friend’s nutrition. Their app offers a database of 15,000+ pet foods and treats that can be matched to your pet’s individual profile, including pre-existing conditions, genetic risks, and other health conditions.
On top of that, you can get reminders to set up your vet appointments, monthly flea medication alerts, and any active recalls. The app syncs up with Petrics’ activity tracker to provide feedback on your pet’s activity and calorie burn and adjust their food accordingly. With recommendations provided by certified veterinarians, it’s a one-stop shop for your pet.
Now, after winning two CES Innovation Awards last month, CEO Edward Hall shares more about the pet healthcare technology that goes into Petrics, their upcoming product, and growing his company in Wilmington, NC.
How did you come up with this idea?
Petrics came about three years ago when my mom was having issues with her pets. It really got me thinking about the difficulty that pet owners have spotting health issues, or managing their pets’ diets. There’s lack of awareness and information about the ideal diets and caregiving needs for pets.
I started looking at building this ecosystem of products that allow for passive health monitoring and tracking, where you can place this product in your home then track a different metric on the pet. From there, with the software, we could turn this into a whole companion application where it allows you to keep up-to-date with vaccinations, other medical things, or finding the right food and quantity for your pets. We really wanted to provide a system that was all-encompassing to become the ultimate healthcare ecosystem for your pets in a very passive manner for pet owners.
Tell me about the science and machine learning technology behind the Petrics platform.
The core science behind it is from veterinarians and nutritionists. Our system will get smarter over time, start to identify individual pet’s eating behaviors and reaction to certain types of food, and other factors. That way we are able to offer even better recommendations.
Typically, our process as pet owners — we look at reviews or follow what our friends say. The odds that a friend is going to have a pet that’s very similar to our pets are very small, right? Even if it’s the exact same breed of the same age, they’re still individual pets. It will become smarter in that sense, to be able to find ideal treats or foods. There’s so many products out there and with the lack of regulations in the industry on the pet foods side, there’s a lot of bad food that’s getting out there.
We can do it a lot faster than anybody can and then your vet can verify if they think it’s a good food selection. By no means do we mean to substitute professional care; if anything we want to be a complement to regular vet care.
You’re adding a new product — a smart bed — to your roster in 2018, correct?
Our smart pet bed has a built-in scale and it tracks weight as well as syncs up their activity with the activity tracker. Now your vet can really get an idea of the fluctuations of weight. If there’s a thyroid issue, or a diabetes issues that’s popping up, they’ll be able to spot those anomalies well in advance, before a pet owner typically would. We’ll be able to see it and notify you, and then you can share that information with your vet.
It also has climate control. You’ll be able to do heating and cooling with this pet bed, depending on the breed. Think of a Husky dog living in 90-degree Florida. It’s one of the most advanced pet beds out there.
What’s your current funding status?
We raised a $695K seed round this month and we just launched a crowdfunding campaign to gather pre-sales and traction while showing the demand for these products.
What was your experience seeking funding and scaling your company in the Southeast?
Our situation is a little unique in the fact that we are an IoT company. We have significant capital costs upfront so that makes it a little more difficult in the Southeast, or more specifically, North Carolina. There’s not a big investment network here that’s comfortable with hardware startups.
The struggle is how do you get valuation that makes sense for a pre-revenue company? I’ve met with many investor groups and it’s pretty commonplace that they want to see revenue and traction because they’re used to that with software startups. It’s going to be really tough to find investors to support that unless you have a serious track record behind you and you’ve got a killer team already in place.