MU students hatch idea for in-home veterinary service, win Columbia Startup Weekend

As veterinary medicine students at the University of Missouri, Kaitlin McDaniel and Wendy Evans have done more than learn to measure vitals and provide treatment for animals. They’ve also assessed the health of their industry.

“We think there is a large gap of services to be filled that don’t require the presence of fully fledged veterinarian,” McDaniel said.

McDaniel and Evans hope to help fill that gap with House Collars, a service that offers veterinary technicians to provide in-home care for pets. House Collars won the seventh annual Startup Weekend Columbia, which concluded Sunday night.

The weekend-long event drew 125 participants and saw 53 aspiring entrepreneurs pitch business ideas on Friday night. Teams formed to pursue 16 of those ideas. They worked Saturday and Sunday to build the foundations of viable businesses, and they delivered final pitches on Sunday evening.

The House Collars team is comprised of six members: Evans and McDaniel, veterinary students at MU; Riley Coy, Charles Hutchinson and Blake Wayman, law students at MU; and Emma Walker, a web designer for Veterans United.

Before pitching to judges on Sunday night, House Collar took its first appointment. The client was a pet owner whose pet has terminal cancer.

“Her pet is struggling with end-of-life care, so her options were to euthanize him today or us to give him the fluids toady,” Evans said. “So we went out and gave her pets fluids.”

There are a variety of pet care services that can be performed by veterinary nurses or technicians, according to Evans. The service providers are considered paraprofessional physicians, Evans said, and don’t require a professional license.

“Situations where an animal has diabetes and needs a monthly or daily insulin shot or has a traumatic wound incident, we see as possibilities where we could have middle-level professionals to take care of these animals,” McDaniel said.

Wait Time Wonder, an aggregator of wait times for the food industry, took second place at Startup Weekend. Tiki Tickets, a mobile platform to simplify the parking ticket appeal process, finished third.

Alyssa Patzius, lead organizer of Startup Weekend Columbia, praised how adaptable many of the teams were. She pointed to one team that started as a dating app and morphed into a tool for finding vintage clothing.

“I was so impressed by the evolution of the pitches from Friday night to the final presentations on Sunday,” Patzius said. “Attendees listened to their potential customers and were open to letting them drive the direction of the final product.”

The top three teams won prize packages that include a variety of resources to help launch their businesses, including web hosting services and workspace at The Hatchery, a Columbia coworking facility.

The House Collar team also earned the opportunity to pitch for a variety of organizations and events in mid-Missouri, including 1 Million Cups Columbia, the Missouri Tech Challenge, Startup Crawl CoMo, Grassroots Entrepreneurs, Centennial Investors and DevComo.

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