Amanda Hoffmeyer had a lightbulb moment one day on a work trip to a veterinary cancer clinic as part of her then-job as director of marketing for New Castle-based medical device manufacturer LiteCure. A self-professed “cat lady,” she was familiar with the anxiousness that comes with having a sick pet at the vet. In the treatment room, she saw the other side of the coin, as vet techs fielded calls from worried pet owners.
“All of these pets had cancer, so their owners were stressed out. They wanted to know what was going on,” Hoffmeyer told Technical.ly. “They wanted to know when their pets would be ready to be picked up. They wanted to know exactly everything that was happening.”
Meanwhile, she was checking the daycare app on her phone, following updates on her 2-year-old’s day.
“So I’m in there watching this chaos while having the complete peace of mind that I know what my kid ate for lunch and I know what he wore and I know he did on the playground,” she said, “and I was like, ‘Oh my god, these guys need a daycare tracker.’”
Hoffmeyer started working on the Fur Baby Tracker on the plane the same day.
Most veterinarians handle pet patients the same way they have for years: You bring in your sick pet and, if it needs more than a simple treatment, you leave your pet and wait for a call that you might miss on a busy day, leaving you to call back and hope that the person who called is still available.
Some vet offices do use apps for things like appointment reminders, but a real-time communication tool specifically for veterinarians and pet owners didn’t exist.
“I had my epiphany that people needed this in September of ’18,” said the CEO. “I had meetings with pretty much anyone in the vet industry who would talk to me through February ’19. Through that process, I identified things that could be challenging, but universally, everybody said they would really like something like this.”
One of Hoffmeyer’s partners on the project is CTO John Gifford, a Philadelphia-based developer who is doing all of the dev work, while Hoffmeyer designed the user interfaces.
“It’s fairly complicated in that the clinic has a desktop web app [in addition to] the iOS and Android apps,” she said.
So far, the app, which is currently in the beta stage, has been funded by Hoffmeyer and one other investor, raising $90,000 for the initial development and in-market push at the country’s two biggest trade shows, which are happening this and next month.
“I have seven clinics beta testing,” said Hoffmeyer. “The feedback has been positive.” The nearest of the seven clinics testing the app is in Baltimore, though there are plans to launch the app at Delaware clinics once the testing is done.
The team has found that vet techs, who are the ones responsible for things like taking photos to send to the owners, have been enthusiastic about sharing additional information: “They got into this because they love animals, and they love taking photos.”
On the pet owner end, downloading the app itself is optional. Updates are sent via text message, starting with an automatic text when the pet is signed in to the clinic.
Currently, Hoffmeyer and her team are navigating Delaware EDGE Grant process for the second time; they made it to the top eight in the STEM class in the grant’s first year, but ultimately were not selected as recipients.
“You know,” she said, “try, try, try again.”