Last year we launched our Fathym Innovations initiative as an opportunity to support compelling projects and showcase the Fathym technology with diverse, real-world use cases. Today we want to introduce you to pup•eeze, a startup that helps pet owners keep their beloved friends safe and healthy, even when they’re out.
Built on Fathym’s low-code IoT framework, pup•eeze co-founders Chelsea Rhoads and Elizabeth Hess have developed a wearable that enables animal lovers to connect with their pets remotely, helping them to be more comfortable when home alone. We conducted an interview with Chelsea and Elizabeth to gain some insight into their startup.
1. Tell us about yourselves: How did you meet? Where did the idea for pup•eeze come from?
Liz and myself have been friends since 2008. We bonded over our dogs, our love of travel and adventure, and of course enjoying a good brew. In 2009 we took a 2 month camping road trip around the southwestern US. The trip was just the two of us, our dogs and a blue Honda Civic. We soon discovered it was very difficult to travel with the dogs without a “house” to keep them in; we couldn’t go out to eat, we couldn’t grab groceries, we couldn’t do laundry. This started the initial thoughts of how technology could help us travel more comfortably with our best friends.
In 2014 I decided to leave my job at the casinos and help start up a brewery near my house. A year after the doors opened, Liz was managing the table games and we got the itch again to get another startup going. So I started selling residential real estate, Liz quickly dove in and helped in her free time. We sold a handful of homes but never felt a true passion for it. While doing real estate and the brewery, we got the idea for Pup Alert. Remembering our struggles of traveling with our dogs, we started developing a mobile temperature monitor that sent notifications if the temperature became too hot or too cold for your specific dog’s breed, age, and size.
We fell in love with Pup Alert! We tested the market, did surveys, designed the hardware, contracted out the app development, got an MVP up and working. It was perfect! We decided to travel once again, this time with a purpose. I sold the house, left the brewery and we bought an RV and we traveled for 3 months pitching the idea to fellow RV’ers. They also loved it! They told us stories of the power going out, the nerve-wrecking trips for groceries, missing impromptu adventures because it was too worrisome to leave their pups alone – all the same issues we’d experienced previously.
One problem: our expensive, time-consuming, custom hardware didn’t pass certification. With our tails between our legs and out of cash, we launched a Kickstarter to raise funds. After a good couple days of purchases, we plateaued and Pup Alert went under.
We licked our wounds, got jobs serving tables and went back to the drawing board. We started plotting where Pup Alert went wrong. We had many difficult conversations, lots of reality checks and went through a couple notebooks of notes and drawings. We thought back to all the conversations we had with people and where some common confusions took place. But instead of assuming people were confused, we thought “what if they were actually telling us what they wanted?” From here we knew we were onto something. We drew, doodled, hashed out ideas, researched markets and developed strategies. From here began the journey of pup•eeze.
Under a year and a half later, through trial and errors, long hours, endless amounts of research, more support than we ever could have imagined, new branding and new partnerships, here we are: 60+ pup•eeze devices just waiting to be shipped out to our anxious supporters, as we finalize the last details of our vision before taking the plunge and sending them out to the world.
The pride of finally releasing a product that we’ve taken from inception to fruition and experiencing how the world responds to the passion and functionality of pup•eeze. We are extremely excited to support our customers’ needs and continue to grow, improve and build long lasting relationships with their best friends.
2. How has the Internet of Things (IoT) helped make pup•eeze a reality?
By combining the multiple fields of IoT, such as hardware, software and cloud-based solutions, we are able to provide real solutions and solve real problems in the pet care industry. Tracking, monitoring and automating our dogs’ surroundings allows us to dramatically improve their daily lives. We are currently on a technology journey as humans which improves our lives every day. We dared to ask the question, why not bring our four-legged friends along on the journey with us?
3. Unfortunately it’s still unusual to see a technology company with two female founders. Can you share some personal insight in regards to women in tech and the issues women may face in this industry?
We don’t believe we have any specific examples of direct issues we experienced as women in technology, because overall we have been wonderfully supported by the incredible Denver and Boulder startup communities. We found the communities to be a great place to start meeting women and male leaders who are striving to support and inspire all to follow their goals and dreams.
Insight we’d offer? It’s important to not get too caught up on any particular reason as to why starting a company is hard. The reality is it’s HARD, and it’s hard for everyone, no matter what field you are starting a company in. Instead of focusing on the issues, focus all your energy on being positive, solving real problems and moving your company forward.
4. How has Fathym helped support your product launch?
Having a group of like-minded people surrounding us each day has really allowed us to develop past a singular product, and into the whole pet ecosystem we’ve been dreaming of creating from the start. Building on the Fathym technologies has helped pup•eeze to create useful solutions through data analytics that we didn’t think would be possible for years. Their low-code solutions will help us grow, improve and make fast, real-time changes to our ecosystem. This helps us to reach all facets of the pet industry in a supported, professional, and high-growth manner.
5. When can people expect to see this product hit the shelves and how can they learn more?
Our beta testers will be receiving their wellness trackers very soon. Our official launch date will be announced after feedback from our testers and supporters. You can learn more by following any of our social media platforms, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, or visiting our website at www.pupeeze.com.