As an animal owner all of my life I know the feeling when you’re dog has run off. Luckily I’ve never permanently lost an animal but I know several people who have. Microchips are great for recovering animals but what many pet owners don’t realize is that microchips can only be read with microchip readers at your local vet’s office, and if you’re lucky, the shelter.
With the rise in use and popularity of smartphones many people who’ve lost a pet wish they had a microchip reader built into their iPhone or Android device. While that’s not possible, a Lexington Kentucky startup called Tagapet, has a solution.
Tagapet’s new pet tag incorporates both QR code and NFC technology. This means that NFC equipped smartphones, and bar code readers (available for every smartphone these days), someone who finds your pet can easily find important information. The QR code on the tag can be coded with all of your important owner information including contact info and even animal allergies. The QR code actually has a huge benefit over traditional engraved collars by allowing a much larger data field to incorporate complete contact info.
Not only that but Tagapet has also incorporated GPS so that when the lost pet is scanned with a smartphone the owner is notified of their GPS location, making reuniting pet and owner, even quicker.
We got a chance to talk with the brilliant team behind Tagapet. Check out the interview below.
What is TagaPet?
TagaPet is a company dedicated to protecting pets and bringing the pet tag to the 21st century. We make it easy to locate your pet using important contact information, medical information, and GPS. Our product is an electronic smart tag that attaches to a pet’s collar. The smart tag has both a QR code and an NFC chip that can be scanned with any capable smart phone.
In layman’s terms, how does it work?
Our system works by using any smartphone to scan the TagaPet tag using either NFC technology or a QR code. Once the tag is scanned, the smartphone is taken to the pet’s profile page where the user can see whether or not the pet is lost. The owner of the pet will also be sent the GPS location of where the pet was scanned. Pet owners also have the capabilities to send out messages through social media.
Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?
Michael Ward, CEO
Michael’s dog, Lilly, has changed his life and was the inspiration for starting TagaPet. Michael recently graduated from UK with a degree in Business Administration. He is the CEO of TagaPet and in his free time he enjoys being outside.
Mac Glidewell, COO
Mac is currently in his final semester at the University of Kentucky where he will receive a degree in Political Science and a minor in History. He is the COO of TagaPet and hopes to one day say that he helped create a solution to the problem of lost pets.
Ben Wilson, CTO
A native of Danville, KY, Ben is a 2012 graduate of Furman University with a B.S. in IT. As CTO, Ben develops and manages TagaPet’s online assets. In his spare time Ben enjoys relaxing with Yogi the dog and catching up on the latest tech tweets.
Where are you based?
What’s the startup scene/culture like where you’re based?
There is a great up and coming startup scene in Lexington, KY. The presence of the University of Kentucky and Awesome Inc. gives entrepreneurial-minded individuals a place to grow.
How did you come up with the idea for Tagapet?
The CEO and co-founder, Michael Ward, came across the idea when he got his dog Lilly. Lilly is a very young and playful dog and Michael was worried she might run away. Upon being unable to find a satisfactory system to help ensure the safety of his pet, he decided to create his own.
How did you come up with the name?
The name TagaPet, like the idea, came from Lilly. In the beginning TagaPet had only “tagged a pet”, that of coarse being Lilly. TagaPet then shifted their goal to try and tag every pet in attempt to solve the problem of pet identification.
What problem does Tagapet solve?
TagaPet solves the problem of pet identification.
What’s your secret sauce?
Our secret sauce is in our smart tag that can be scanned using both a QR code and NFC technology, as well as be purchased at an affordable rate.
What’s one dilemma you’ve encountered in the startup process?
One dilemma TagaPet has encountered is working with other companies in order to advance their product. Not every company works as fast as TagaPet would like sometimes, so the wait is always difficult.
What’s one challenge you’ve overcome in the startup process?
The largest challenge that TagaPet has overcome is obtaining investment. To start any business, it usually requires some sort of financial backing. With the investment that TagaPet received, they were able to manufacture their series one tag and attend several trade shows.
Who are some of your mentors and business role models?
Without the help of Awesome Inc. TagaPet would not be in the position they are in today. Through Awesome Inc. TagaPet was able to learn from several successful entrepreneurs known throughout the startup world.
What’s next for Tagapet?
TagaPet will officially launch at the 2013 North American Veterinary Conference (NAVC) on January 19th-23rd. During the mean time, they will continue to develop their website and smart tag.