What is PetHub?
For pet businesses (a $56B industry) we help them bring tech into their product line that links to an animal’s online profile (e.g. dog ID tags, collars). We also help them stay engaged with their customers. For pet owners, we provide the most comprehensive lost pet recover system (GPS, alerts, “Amber Alert”-like broad casts, and $3k insurance for any injuries sustained while an animal is missing).
What’s your traction been like thus far?
We’re still in start-up mode but we’ve had some excellent exposure in the press and some very promising bulk sales, including the sale of nearly 10k tags and subscriptions in a 3-day period. We also recently entered 1,000 brick & mortar retail stores in the U.S. and 400 in Europe through our partners (we’re the software powering their products). The first week of July 2013 also had us on the cover of Pet Age Magazine (the leading pet retailer magazine) as well as a great write-up by the BBC World News about how we’re helping pets and pet owners now in 22 countries.
What do you know now that you wish you would have known when you started PetHub?
I wish I knew how long it takes to close deals. It can be excruciating how long it can take. You meet people, they like you, they want to watch you for a little bit, and then they cut the deal. Meanwhile, 3 months or more have gone by when we could have been done in 3-days. In short, budget for three to 10-times as long to get a deal done.
What’s a hypothesis that you’ve had that has failed? And how did you respond?
We hypothesized in the beginning that if we handed out our tags to pet owners that they would take them home and activate them immediately, putting tons of people onto our site. We could not have been more wrong. We had maybe 125 out of 1,000 registered. So, we made people earn those tags, whether it was through paying a nominal amount of money (e.g. shipping) or through investing their time (e.g. filling out a form to receive a free tag). When someone earns that tag, they attach value to it, and they are much more likely to do something with it (where over 80% of those people then went and activated the tag).
What’s your favorite startup in Seattle? (Besides your own!)
Glympse. I love what they’re doing with tracking real-time GPS using someone’s smartphone. There are so many applications.
What’s your favorite thing about being a startup in Seattle?
The startup community is world class in that we are one of the top cities in the country to start a tech company. You cannot forget that. You could very well be sitting in Kentucky right now wishing you were in Seattle or Silicon Valley, closer the engineers and investors. I like how we are a big pond, yet not the biggest pond. There’s a solid startup community here; one where you can go to a random event on a random night and 1) see people you know and 2) meet new people. It can happen almost every night.
What’s your favorite thing about being an entrepreneur?
The uncertainty. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it. I love how each day is different and how you pave your own course with each and every conversation, product revision, launch party, media write up, guest post, etc. It’s all out there, you just have to go get it. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. But that’s why we play the game, right?
What does the success look like for PetHub?
From a revenue standpoint, as a software-as-a-service solution, we’re all about subscriptions. Our goal is to get a significant percentage of our users paying recurring fees for cool features we continue to add to the site. Right now we’re around 30% paid subscribers, but our model has been forecasted for much lower than that. If we can continue to get more tags into more people’s hands, the success of our company is based on continuing to get people to convert and love our services. From a quality of service point of view, we’re already getting 97% of lost PetHub pack members home in under a day (25% in less than an hour). Success is making those time-to-return-home numbers even better.
Seahawks, Sounders, Mariners or Huskies?
Definitely Seahawks and Huskies!
If you were to take PetHub on a date, where would it want to go?
Volunteer at an animal shelter 🙂
What is your favorite thing about being a startup in the Seattle area?
There’s so much talent in this area and people are willing to help with advice, introductions, and sometimes even pitching in to do “work-work.” I had one advisor who was so excited about what we’re doing that he wrote a 5-page competitive analysis of his own to give us a fresh perspective.