Amanda Hoffmeyer gives all the credit for her breakthrough business idea to her three cats.
The self-described “cat lady” knows first hand the anxiety pet owners sometimes feel when their animals become ill and need to go to the vet. Hoffmeyer also has a rare, behind the scenes perspective on the industry from her days as a marketer of medical devices to veterinarian clinics.
One day while working in a vet oncology clinic, Hoffmeyer noticed that the receptionist was in the operating room “for a third of the day” because the pet owners kept calling to inquire about their pet’s status. “They (pet owners) were just really stressed out and wanted to know what was going on,” said Hoffmeyer.
The Wilmington resident considered that there might be a business opportunity to offer behind the scenes feedback to pet owners craving real-time information.
And that’s when she came up with the idea for the “Fur Baby Tracker,” an app designed for veterinary clinics to keep internal staff and pet owners in the loop during every stage of care.
“The easiest way to describe Fur Baby Tracker is ‘pizza tracker’ meets daycare activity tracker. Pet owners get pics, notes, and updates about their pet’s progression through a plan of care,” she said.
After 16 months of development and testing with a technology partner, Hoffmeyer launched the real-time communication tool just weeks ago, and she’s already landed a $50,000 investment from the state’s unit in charge of supporting small business growth.
She’s also lined up eight veterinary clinics, including Brandywine Veterinary Hospital (BVH), to beta test the new app. BVH owner Brad Gray said he sees potential with its use. “The potential for this app is great because our clients have grown to expect this high level of service. The app will fill the gaps in time in between procedures to keep clients fully informed of their progress. It should give them peace of mind,” he said.
Ten small businesses awarded $700,000 in EDGE grants
Hoffmeyer was one of ten small businesses recognized this month as awardees of the second round of EDGE Grants from the state Division of Small Business. She will use her generous grant to help with further tech development to bring more features to the platform.
The Wilmington entrepreneur already has seven veterinary clinics signed on to use the app in its beta testing stage, and well over 100 veterinary clinics expressed interest in her app when she presented it at a national veterinary trade show on January 19th.
EDGE Grants provide a 3-to-1 match for each dollar an eligible business spends on qualified expenses that improve the company’s long-term chances of success, from market analysis to website design to acquiring essential equipment.
Governor John Carney, Secretary of State Jeff Bullock, and Division of Small Business Director Damian DeStefano announced the companies at an event on January 16th at the Carvel State Office Building in Wilmington.
“It is incredible to see what the innovative entrepreneurs in this state are accomplishing,” said Governor Carney. “Their companies span a wide range of industries, but the one thing the owners share is the drive and determination necessary to start then grow their businesses.”
The State awarded grants this round to the companies listed below. Five STEM Class companies are receiving a total of $495,000, and five Entrepreneur Class businesses are receiving a total of $216,000.
“EDGE Grants are helping to level the playing field for promising Delaware small companies as they compete with more established, larger businesses,” said Secretary of State Jeff Bullock.”
Sixteen finalists – eight STEM Class and eight Entrepreneur Class – gave public presentations before a panel of expert judges on December 18 and 19 at Delaware Tech in Dover, after which five winners in each category were chosen.
Several companies that applied in the first round but were not awarded grants, including Fur Baby’s Hoffmeyer, took advantage of the opportunity to work with the Division’s business resource managers to strengthen their applications the second time around.
“That is what this program is about,” said Division Director Damian DeStefano. “The grant funding is incredibly important to those who win, but EDGE also provides a way for all applicants to learn how to improve their businesses.”
EDGE Round Two Recipients:
Fur Baby Tracker (Wilmington)
This woman-owned company will use its grant to roll out the mobile app it developed that lets pet parents track the progress of their cat or dog’s treatment during a stay at a veterinary hospital.
This company purchases and renovates single-family homes in Wilmington which it leases to nonprofits and governmental entities to house families in need of housing and supportive services. It will use the grant to purchase and renovate additional homes.
Dolce Bakery and Coffee Shop (Milford)
This bakery-café will use the grant to upgrade its equipment and market its new services and a second Milford location scheduled to open later this year.
Volunteer Brewing Company (Middletown)
This family-owned craft brewing company located in downtown Middletown will use its grant to purchase new brewing and fermentation equipment to expand production.
Best Music Coach (Dover)
This company offers online music lessons for voice and various instruments including guitar and piano. It will use its grant to upgrade its online platform and add online learning materials.
2M LLC (Wilmington)
This company makes an extremely fast-charging and safe battery, which can enable a less than 10-minute charge for E-mobility applications, such as enabling an electric vehicle to go 200 miles on a 10-minute charge. 2M will use the grant to scale up production to meet customer demand.
4th Phase Water Technologies (Wilmington)
This company is focused on commercializing binder-free carbon nanotube sheets made using its proprietary processes. The sheets are superior filtration/separation membranes and electromagnetic interference shielding material for a host of industries including bioprocessing, defense, consumer electronics and automotive. The company will use its grant to acquire additional lab equipment and for marketing.
This company is developing sustainable products from biomass, such as that which is produced in beer manufacturing. It will use the grant to scale up its chemical process, increase production capacity and attract larger commercial customers.
MCET Technologies (Wilmington)
This company developed a way of integrating sensors into textiles that can be used to monitor a patient during physical rehabilitation. It will use the grant to scale up manufacturing to increase production and expand applications.
Veramorph Materials (Wilmington)
This company developed a hydrogel-based system that allows the body to absorb pharmaceuticals more efficiently. It will use its grant for critical equipment for R&D services for pharmaceutical companies and to conduct toxicology studies.
The Division of Small Business is currently accepting applications for the Spring 2020 round of EDGE Grants. Visit www.delbiz.com for eligibility requirements and to download the application. The deadline to apply is February 28, 2020 at 11:59 p.m.