Peeva: The Startup Putting An End To Lost Pets

We had the opportunity to interview Michael Hamilton, CEO and founder of Peeva, the startup behind the first and only universal pet microchip scanner.

Q: Can you start by telling us a bit about yourself and Peeva?
A: In order to understand our company you really have to understand the problem and our solution. When I was a little kid my dog was stolen and we never got him back. I love my dog now, Peeva, and I didn’t want anything like that to ever happen again. I was sad to learn that despite numerous technologies that have been developed, marketed, and sold to pet owners since I was a kid, nothing has worked. In this country, one third of all pets are reported missing in their lifetime, and nearly 80% are never found. They remain stolen, or put in shelters, where millions are killed every year. Microchips will work 100% of time if scanned and properly registered, but scanning for microchips isn’t the standard operating procedure for all vets and shelters. If it was, the missing pet problem could be greatly reduced.

Q: Could you briefly explain for our readers what a microchip does and how it works?
A: When a pet that was implanted with a microchip gets lost and winds up being taken to a shelter, or if it is stolen and taken to a vet, the vet/shelter is supposed to scan it for a microchip. Then, you’re supposed to get a phone call and get your pet back. The problem is that this is simply not happening. No universal scanner can read the full range of microchips encountered by vets and shelters when they receive missing pets, so pets are seldom recovered. Even if a scanner can read a microchip, that microchip code then needs to be searched by multiple registries until a match is found. That registry then needs to be called, and calls are often placed on hold. So it’s much easier for a veterinarian to ignore the issue all together and say ‘we’re in the business of treating pets, not in the business of policing puppies’. Simply put, microchips didn’t work.

But our system is different. We developed a universal scanner that can read all microchips regardless of their frequency or level of encryption. Our product is also cloud connected, so pet owners are going to be instantly notified whenever their pet is scanned, telling them who last scanned it as well as the address and phone number of where it was scanned - all within about 3 seconds of the initial scan, anywhere in the world. On top of this, our microchips are ISO standardized, so not only can our scanner read all brands of microchips, but our microchips can be read by all brands of scanners. In a nutshell, that’s how Peeva works.


Q: What is your plan for revenue generation?
A: So our microchips and scanners are not only more desirable for pet owners, but cheaper for hospitals that work with us as well. We’re currently giving our microchips away basically at cost, and we can get them very cheap.Additionally, for the microchips to work, they have to be scanned and properly registered, and we’re also offering them cheaper registration fees; it is a straight revenue stream for them. We’re going to offset the costs and gain revenue with adopt-out fees: for each pet that they register and chip on our site, they’ll bill the pet owner, or the new pet adopter in the form of adoption fees. This way we can not only gain profits, but bring value to both hospitals and pet owners. We are however, still in beta, and plan on fine tuning our revenue model.

Q: Are you looking for additional funding or have a crowdfunding campaign? If so, what are you looking for in a potential investor, and how can interested readers get in touch/learn more?
A: Well about a year ago I decided to do a crowdfunding campaign, but we never ended up going through with it. At the time I thought it was a good idea; not only does crowdfunding establish market demand and market research, but it is a great way of gaining access to funds. Our lawyers actually got involved and pointed out the somewhat obvious fact that we didn’t even have our intellectual property shored up yet, and we would be essentially giving our idea away for free. So that’s why ultimately decided against a crowdfunded raise. However, we’re not hush-hush about our idea anymore because not only do we have the proper IP protection, but we’ve also gained ample traction. So we would be open to doing a crowdfunding campaign in the future.

Now in regards to venture capital, I like to use the analogy of a record label; VCs are very much like a record label, and startups are like rock bands. Many of them don’t have well thought-out ideas and they just send out business plans to VC firms like garage bands send out demo tapes to record labels. As a result, most of them never make it out of the garage. The most successful rock bands will go out and tour and gain traction and consequently get a better record deal. We decided to get the paying customer first (NVA), then to go out and raise capital on better terms. For Peeva to work, it has to be done a certain way. We can’t necessarily take directions from a banker who is unfamiliar with the veterinarian field. That being said, now that we do have a paying customer, we are very open to talking to venture capitalists.

Q: Currently US federal law does not require standardization of microchips; do you see this as changing in the next five years, and if so, how would this affect your company?
A: Well, first of all, this is a problem that is not going away. The Animal Welfare Act does not authorize the USDA office to regulate private pet ownership and concluded that it could not maintain a national standard for pet microchips or scanners. That law was passed 26 years ago. Since then, there have been numerous lawsuits, numerous efforts to change the law, and numerous attempts to introduce new laws. Evidently social causes don’t move mountains; business opportunities do. Since the veterinary field is so fragmented, and there are so many registration databases and cataloging systems, the only viable solution is the one we provided: to create a centralized data registry. That being said, different countries have different medical record requirements and vaccination requirements as well- there’s no standardization, no central registry. So we’re resolving this on an international level as well.

However, any progressive company should watch out for and adjust to changes. The horseshoe manufacturer should have invested in tires. We’re going to keep an eye on GPS and other technologies, but microchips are really the only option to resolving this problem. GPS is too large to be put in any living thing without killing it, and requires an external power source. Until someone perfects nano generator technology, implantable GPS is just not going to happen, despite some common misconceptions perpetuated by false news. A woman named Karen Hanover actually went to jail for claiming to have international patents on an implantable GPS microchip. It wound up just being a fraudulent crowdfunding campaign to make money on kick-starter.

Q: Were there many roadblocks along the way to founding your own company?
A: Yes, there have been many, many roadblocks along the way; GPS is actually a major one - not the technology itself, but the misconceptions surrounding it such as the one I just mentioned. Many people, who, quite frankly, don't understand the technology, think that RFID is archaic, and that we should be using GPS microchips, a technology that doesn’t even exist yet in a usable form. There’s also just the practical day to day of trying to start a company. I was doing this for almost a year before my family even knew about it. There are many startups these days, making it very difficult to stand out. I didn’t want anyone to know until I was sure I had an idea that could succeed. And another problem is, of course, money. Money and gaining access to funds is a big piece of that puzzle as well. Fortunately, I’m still a young guy and I’m not married, so as long as I can feed my dog, I can take a risk. I could tell you so many stories about roadblocks, and challenges, and bureaucracy, but that could be a whole subject for a whole other conversation.

Q: What’s your vision for your company? Where do you see Peeva five years from now?
We’re going to start with our early adopters - NVA, one of the largest hospital groups in the world - and we’re going to scale accordingly. The 150 hospitals in our beta group are just in the US and Canada, but this group of animal hospitals has a presence in New Zealand, Australia, and the European Union as well, so we are also looking at expanding internationally. Additionally, we are going to take a top down business approach to build up our critical mass, and by generating awareness we really believe we will become a household name very quickly. We hope to be an international household name in 5 years, without question.

Disclosure: Startup Watch is a platform TalkMarkets provides for startup company executives to discuss their companies in depth. TalkMarkets provides a suggested list of questions but the format ...

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Maria R. Beard 4 years ago Member's comment

Lovely post.

Angry Old Lady 6 years ago Member's comment

How soon will this be readily available?

Michael Hamilton 6 years ago Member's comment

March 2018

Angry Old Lady 6 years ago Member's comment

Are you still on target?

Simone Radcliffe 6 years ago Member's comment

@[Michael Hamilton](user:58237), you came up with a great idea for a company but I'm confused by the name. I realize you named the company after your dog, but I've never actually heard that name before. Does it mean anything?

Michael Hamilton 6 years ago Member's comment

Peeva isn’t my dog. My pet peeve. She is a female so I put an A at the end of her name to femanize it. Peeva diva etc...

Katy Lin 4 years ago Member's comment


Simone Radcliffe 6 years ago Member's comment

Got it, cute.

Alexa Graham 6 years ago Member's comment

Interesting. But how will you get the vets to buy your scanner, not to mention to actually scan the pets?

Michael Hamilton 6 years ago Member's comment

The hardware we will be giving away. Streamlining workflow ensures use.

Terrence Howard 6 years ago Member's comment

I disagree that giving something away, even if it makes things easier, will guarantee it's use. Most people are reluctant to try new things or take the time to learn how to use them. Why not create some kind of reward system to encourage use?

Barry Hochhauser 6 years ago Member's comment

#Peeva sounds like a good idea with a well thoughtout strategy for implementation. When will this product be broadly available?

Michael Hamilton 6 years ago Member's comment

We are currently in beta testing getting as much feedback and suggestions that we can from our testers so we can make it the most useful to them then we will launch. 5 to 7 months.

Michael Hamilton 6 years ago Member's comment

March 2018 in vet offices. 5 to 7 in shelters nation wide.

Nicole Jacobs 6 years ago Member's comment

Great Q&A on Peeva! Looks like it’s scaling the right way! Solves a great problem

Ayelet Wolf 6 years ago Member's comment

I agree. How large is the pet market anyway?

Nicole Jacobs 6 years ago Member's comment

Well it’s a billion dollar industry not slowing down and millions of pets are lost a year and not chipped at all!