For our Startup Spotlights, Times of Entrepreneurship scouted the most successful startups that spun out of top university competitions and programs. The impact of such awards can be many years in the making, especially in the DeepTech space.
Interviewee: Lizz Whitacre, founder
Which university challenge did you win and when?
I won the University of Nebraska – Lincoln’s New Venture Competition in 2018
What is your elevator pitch?
Pawlytics is a mission-driven company that started as software to help animal shelters operate more efficiently, charging $1 per adopted pet. Since launching and working with animal rescues all over the world, we have discovered a way to create pet electronic health records using the microchip number in adopted pets.
This pitch has changed dramatically. We originally launched with our “North Star” being animal rescue management software. Through years of being challenged, learning, and iterating, we discovered a much larger opportunity for growth and impact in creating electronic health records for pets. Helping homeless pets now gets to be a foundational stop in our journey as we grow beyond the industry to help create a better world for all pets.
What should we know about you?
As far back as I can remember, I have always had an obsession with animals, specifically dogs and other companion animals. However, I am actually incredibly allergic to dogs, cats, and all things fluffy so I was not allowed to own any for a long time. This only drove the obsession so I dove into every way I could get close to animals. As a kid, this was mostly books, until I was finally able to adopt my first dog who died within two years of getting him. This ignited my flame to rescue all of the animals I possibly could. I began volunteering at my local shelter, which turned into me being board members for animals rescues and starting my own club in college for rescuing dogs. This pattern has continued through now. Something always seems to try to stop me from getting close or helping animals, but I always somehow find a workaround or another way. If I had one takeaway from my journey, it would be that your mission does not have to change, but how you get there will. Be relentless in your mission, but be flexible and patient with your journey in getting there.
What are you looking for?
At the moment, funding would make Pawlytics grow faster in a sustainable manner. After 1.5 years in the market, we have created non-scalable methods for attaining customers and a more exact roadmap to attain future customers through feature development. Funding will allow us to accelerate growth through automating customer acquisition and retainment processes while developing and releasing features at a more rapid pace.
Why should someone invest in you?
Someone should invest in me because I will not stop. As a young, female, minority founder from an immigrant family, I have proven to be incredibly resourceful and have the ability to do a lot with very little.
Is there a clear evidence of success you would like to share?
In a short 1.5 years in market, the Pawlytics brand and customer set has attained global reach with no marketing budget and has risen to have one of the highest and most Capterra ratings in our category. Pawlytics’ leadership team has become a respected thought leader with seats in national industry working groups that bring the best and brightest together such as the National Level Working Groups and Industry Tech Roundtables.
How much money have you raised so far, and what is the number of employees in the startup?
So far we have raised $300k, and have 3 full-time employees and 3 contractors part-time.
Where are you currently located?
If you would describe your startup to have a superpower, what would it be?
PASSION. That sounds like a copout answer, but it’s not. It’s our greatest strength. Anyone can learn any skills – but you can’t learn to be passionate and frankly…give a shit about something. Our passion for needing to help animals has carried this team through 3 past failed startups, all revolving around saving pets. It’s driven us to build enterprise software that made it to market on less than $135k and made Pawlytics a leading shelter software brand in 17 months. Nothing can stop our passion and determination to succeed for the animals and their people who need Pawlytics.If you have a Startup Spotlight to suggest, please contact Shirly Piperno, email@example.com.
This story and others on New Builders Dispatch are made possible by a sponsorship from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private, nonpartisan foundation that provides access to opportunities that help people achieve financial stability, upward mobility, and economic prosperity – regardless of race, gender, or geography. The Kansas City, Mo.-based foundation uses its grantmaking, research, programs, and initiatives to support the start and growth of new businesses, a more prepared workforce, and stronger communities. For more information, visit www.kauffman.org and connect with www.twitter.com/kauffmanfdn and www.facebook.com/kauffmanfdn.