How would you like to have a video chat with your dog? When Brooke Martin was 12 years old, she came up with a way to help her golden retriever, Kayla, feel connected with the family. Kayla had separation anxiety, and would get very upset whenever she was left alone in the house. Brooke wanted to find a way to connect with Kayla when then family was out of the house, so she decided to use video chat!
“I enjoy video chatting with my friends and family,” Brook says, “so I thought, ‘Why not your dog? And why not give them a treat while you’re at it?’” And so she created the iCPooch. The iCPooch is like a video-chat for dogs, with a video screen, camera and microphone set into a treat dispenser. “The dog doesn’t have to answer the call,” explains Brooke. “It comes up immediately on the screen on their end. It’s a two-way audio and video—you can see and hear each other.” Owners can even give their pet a treat just by pushing a button on their smartphone!
At first, the iCPooch was just an idea. Brooke shared her idea at a Startup Weekend event, and the iCPooch got the most votes. So she started making prototypes (examples of the final product) in her garage. The most important part of the design, she says, was making it dog-safe. She tested different screen protectors with dogs from the Humane Shelter, letting them walk on them and scratch at them. Finally, after a year and half of work, the ICPooch was ready for the market!
Brooke says her advice for young entrepreneurs (kids who want to start a business) is to figure out what you love to do, and then do it! “Do everything you can to improve your skill or advance your understanding. Hard work can do amazing things that may sometimes seem impossible. Sure you’ll face obstacles, but the best successes come from failures. As cliché as it sounds, follow your dreams, but more importantly, make them happen!”