If you’ve ever had a dog or cat go missing, you know the gut-clenching fear it causes. You don’t know if they are hurt, injured, hiding in the bushes behind the house or if they’ve been abducted. This is a scenario no pet parent should have to live through.
There are ways in which you can help prevent this horrific scenario—as I found out when I caught up with Lorien Clemens, Vice President of Marketing and Operations at PetHub. Lorien shared that with many products, necessity is the mother of invention and that was certainly the case with PetHub.
Q:What was the impetus behind PetHub?
A:Taz (a cat belonging to founder of PetHub and Lorien’s now-husband Tom Arnold) was the reason PetHub was born. Tom was traveling when Taz went missing, and there was a mad scramble to make lost pet signs and find information on the cat. He was operating in panic mode because he didn’t have a readily available place where with all of his cat’s information. (Thankfully, their story had a happy ending—Taz came home.)
After that incident, Tom decided he needed to do something that made a difference in the world and ultimately left his job to do something in the pet industry. He decided to create a ‘pet hub’ to store a pet’s information. That way, if a pet goes missing, the pet parent doesn’t have to scramble.
Q:How was the product created?
A:Tom had attended an entrepreneurial conference in 2009 and had the idea for the QR code pet ID tag. That idea morphed into using the patented pet tag with the QR code to link everything about the pet into one central location. The QR code was on the identification tag the dog or cat would wear on his collar.
When he was testing it, Tom sent me a message, asked me to read it using the QR code reader, then he changed the message and when I re-read it, it was different pet-centric information. It was quick and easy for him to change and update the pet’s information. That was how PetHub started.
Q:What makes PetHub ID tags different?
A:I couldn’t believe that in the 21st century we want to solve the problem of a lost dog by making the person who found it take the dog or cat to a vet to get scanned. Also, in many cases, the etched collar tags are out-dated and the contact information is no longer valid. PetHub is our response to a problem that desperately needed to be solved.
When you use a PetHub tag the pet parent has myriad options for information to upload about the pet—multiple contacts, photos, medical histories and more—and the information is easy to change or update. The tags work on many different species. We have a tortoise, named Bowser who has been reunited with his family more than once because he was wearing a PetHub tag. We have had pet parents of cows, goats, horses, pot-bellied pigs, rats and rabbits invest in a PetHub tag for their pets.
Q:In what ways are PetHub’s identification tags unique from microchips?
A:Our tags link to a free online portal the pet parent can update at any time. When we take our own dogs on a camping trip, we update our contact information to include the campground contact information. You can also put your pet sitter’s information on there, you can write about medications your dog is on, you can add new photos at any time. It’s versatile and user-friendly.
Having medical information on your pet’s personal PetHub tag assures if your lost pet is found, and if she has a medical condition, and the tag is scanned, the person who found your pet will know she needs medication and what her health issues are. My mom’s dog has epilepsy and she is a roamer. She will escape the yard and take a walk about. Should she get picked up and the person who finds her scans the QR code, they will not only have my mom’s contact information, they will also see the dog needs medication.
Q:What’s been the most satisfying/gratifying moment during your PetHub career?
A:One day we got a call at PetHub’s headquarters, after hours, about a dog named Tyson who was wandering the streets in Memphis. We called the owner who told us, “Tyson’s not lost, he’s in the backyard.” We asked the owner to go and check and he found the gate was wide open and his dog was gone.
The convergence of events in this case was that the first phone number on the pet’s PetHub page was called; no one answered. The second number on the PetHub profile was called and the owner picked up and discovered his dog—who he didn’t even know was missing—had been found wandering the streets. Since there were multiple phone numbers, we were able to call until someone answered and the dog and his owner were reunited.
Q:What’s on the horizon for PetHub and you, personally?
A:I’m enjoying what I am doing with my latest endeavor, Pet Lover Geek. It gives me the opportunity to get out there, learn about new tech, uncover exciting things happening in the industry. I have a lot of fun doing it.
As for PetHub, the business has switched its business model from a pure retail focus to one based around building relationships and working with municipalities and shelters to help with pet licenses and rabies tags. We are in 160 communities and will be launching about twenty more in the next few months with the PetHub tags. What we’re doing is working with municipalities and shelters to have them use PetHub-powered identification tags as the pet license tags. It’s a thrilling partnership and change in direction.
Q:As a successful entrepreneur and 2014 Pet Industry Woman Of The Year, do you have any advice to any would-be entrepreneurs?
A:When we started out, we learned to know our audience. We needed to make sure we were meeting a pain point. I’d suggest anyone starting out do that as well. We worked with retailers who loved the product, but they weren’t invested in educating their customer about our product because they knew if they bought the tag, they’d never need to buy another. The retailer would rather educate their customer about a pet treat that they will come back and buy every week.
You have to listen to feedback. Be willing to get rid of everything that isn’t working. We have left more on the cutting room floor than is in the film that everyone sees at PetHub. It’s hard to cut and walk away. If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, you need to appeal to your audience.
Robbi Hess, award-winning author, is multi-petual: She shares her home with two Devon Rex kittens, three adult rescue cats, a mini poodle, a Goldendoodle, three lizards and two ferrets. When not caring for her pets, she is an editor, speaker, time management and productivity guru, content creator, social media manager and blogger. She writes at All Words Matter, My Divas Dish, and is the story editor and chief cat herder at Positively Woof.