Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

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Friday Feature: Ed Hall, Healthy Pets, and the World’s First Smart Pet Bed

by Nikki Kroushl on February 9, 2018

Ed Hall and Petrics bed

Entrepreneurship is about solving a problem—about easing your customer's pain. Petrics, the pet healthcare company making IoT products and making waves in small business news lately, does it by making life easier for pet owners and healthier for pets. For its founder, Ed Hall, the path to startup stardom began with his mother. With three cats and a dog, Hall's mother found it impossible to keep track of which pets needed which foods in what amounts.

Enter Petrics.

“A pet owner wants to do the best for their pet,” Hall explains. “We wanted to develop a system that could help pet owners be knowledgeable and more informed in how they care for their pets, and give them tools to make it easier, so it doesn't impede their current lifestyles.”

Hall has wanted to start his own business for as long as he could remember. His four and a half years in the Navy cemented this desire. “I used to visit my friends who were in college at UNCW when I was on leave, and I fell in love with Wilmington,” he says, which made him want to start a business here after his service. “I always take advantage of opportunities. I've never been scared of taking risks, and I thrive in challenging situations.”

After finishing his military years, Hall enrolled in UNCW. He double majored in film studies and entrepreneurship. After graduation, he became a member of the CIE, where he continued his education and applied business learning.

The CIE is where Hall met Andrew Williams, founder and CEO of Elite Innovations.  Hall joined Williams during the setup of their first facility, and helped grow the company as Wilmington’s premiere makerspace and product development firm.  During Hall’s time at Elite Innovations, he helped in the development of nearly thirty products as a product and project manager, as well as managed the makerspace portion of the business. After nearly two years, the opportunity to shift his complete attention to Petrics arrived.

But before he left his full-time work to pursue a startup, he did the research.

“I wanted to make sure it wasn't an anomaly—I wanted to help try to figure this problem out,” Hall explains. He contacted researchers at NC State and Cornell University and found that pet diet/nutrition and weight management was an industry-wide problem. Pet owners, though overall well-intentioned, didn't have the tools or the time to spend on in-depth monitoring of their pets' health. Veterinarians couldn't get the detailed information they needed—about how much food the pets were eating, what their sleep and activity patterns were like, and what they weighed over time as opposed to the single weigh-in per year at the vet's office.

So Hall set out to create an integrated system for monitoring pet health and habits. In January 2016, an angel investor from the Wilmington Angels for Local Entrepreneurs (WALE) network contributed enough money for Hall to leave Elite Innovations and work on Petrics full-time. The first piece is the mobile app, launching this spring, which has the first true cat and dog diet and nutrition recommendation engine. That app catalogues tens of thousands of pet foods and treats, analyzing which ones are ideal for a pet based on the pet’s breed, physical characteristics, and lifestyle, as well as the owner’s nutritional quality preferences.

Petrics app

The app can update owners on recall information, proper food portions, and how different ingredients and brands might affect pets differently based on age, breed, weight, and other factors. Hall explains it’s not designed to replace veterinarians or nutritionists, but rather act as a tool to help pet owners keep their pets in top condition in the time that passes between vet visits. The app can house multiple pet profiles and delivers reminders about appointments, medications, reordering items, and more.

The second step is Petrics's smart pet bed, the world’s first smart pet bed that tracks weight and rest, and offers climate control which will feed valuable health data to the app. Temperature-adjustable and linked to the Petrics’ activity tracker (a “fitbit for cats and dogs”) on a pet's collar, the bed will be able to report things like temperature, sleep and activity behavior, and daily weight fluctuations. It will make noticing early-stage health problems much easier. You won't even have to buy more than one bed in a multi-pet household because the activity trackers also act as the identification for the pet.  

In January, Petrics's pet bed received two of the highest accolades a consumer electronics company can hope for: Innovation Awards in “Smart Home” and “Tech For A Better World” categories at the 2018 Consumer Electronics show.  Accordingly, the mobile app is slated to launch by the end of February (click here to stay informed about the download).

Hall and Petrics have no intentions of slowing down.

“At the end of the day, if we're building something great, I'm not planning on going anywhere,” he says. “We [all] want to build something that makes a difference. For me, I want to build something that's really going to help the pet industry as a whole, and help progress animal science… and help pets live more fulfilling lives,” he says. “If, along the way, it also helps pay the bills, that's great.”

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