By Lauren Keyson and Sarah Grieco
Marc Thalheim re-started his company Petstablished at the beginning of the year. His site is for anyone interested in adopting a pet — they can view the pets page on a shelter’s site after receiving a code. Or, if they view the pet on our website, they can then click on the adopt button. From there, they fill out an adoption application, create a pet account and track all their pet’s information by using a password. But while the idea was sound, he had a huge challenge – he had to find a good development team. The first was a disaster, which is why he had to re-start his business all over again. He tells us about his journey:
Marc Thalheim: So our business makes it very easy for people to adopt a pet. We’ve already proven this in our beta test — we are getting a very good signup rate from that. Once owners adopt, they get an account with their all their pet’s medical records. At the same time, you can register your pet’s microchip. Also, we’re adding a whole suite of products with partner companies.
Lauren Keyson: How much money have you raised so far?
MT: Right now, it’s all funded by my family and myself. We have started looking for money. We don’t want to give up that much equity. We had to start over about 11 months ago. Since we started over, we’ve only invested about $300,000. Before that, it was just below $400,000.
LK: So what are you looking for?
MT: Right now we’re looking for $1 million. We’re going to probably wind up needing $3 million. That’s going to allow us to get into as many shelters as possible, as fast as possible. Even though we do have a patent pending on the software, we want to move quickly. Once a shelter is using software, it’s hard to get them to switch.
We give it to the shelters for free. So it’s a razor to razorblade model. We give them the software, they get us the pet owners, and that’s where we make most of the money. We do sell microchips to the shelters. We just opened that up this year. We only generated about $2,000 from that, but that was just the first month.
LK: Why did you redo your business?
MT: I just couldn’t find a good development team to build the company. The problem was to do this, you need very good developers and we had outsourced development. Luckily this guy came in and took over, and he was finally able to build what we needed. It was all about getting the product actually created. That was the hardest part.
LK: So, did you ever think well, this is losing money, I’m going to get out of it?
MT: No, because I knew it was working. The problem was that we just couldn’t get the product built. So I spent all this money on these developers who basically screwed us over. Yet, everyone loved the idea — it was a matter of actually just creating it. So, we re-started about 12 months ago and put in a little more money. We launched, and basically, we’ve been doing insanely well.