A few years ago, Brooke Martin, a high school student in Spokane, Washington, thought about how great it would be if people could talk to their dogs while they’re and even give their pups treats. She told us all about her idea and how it became a reality!
batteryPOP: How did you get the idea for iCPooch?
Brooke: iCPooch was born as a result of an eighth-grade class project I did on entrepreneurship*. I decided as part of my project to participate in an intense 54-hour event called Startup Weekend Spokane, held in September of 2012 at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. I wanted to know first-hand what it meant to be an entrepreneur. First I needed to come up with an idea that I could pitch to a large group of adults.
My dog Kayla suffered from anxiety whenever we would leave her at home alone. She was so unhappy when we were gone. My friends and I would often Skype with each other and I thought it would be great if there people had a way to check in on their pups to make sure they were OK. I did some online research and found out that there wasn’t anything available like that on the market. I also found out that over 10 million dogs suffer from separation anxiety in the U.S. alone. Kayla really likes her cookies, so I thought it would be even better if you could not only video chat with your pet, but also be able to deliver a tasty treat.
I presented my idea in the one-minute pitch time allowed to all participants. I was one of 40 presenters—39 adults and me. I ended up receiving the most votes of any of the pitches presented. Afterward, I was able to form a team of professionals that helped me to further develop my idea over the weekend. Everyone was so supportive of iCPooch and me.
batteryPOP: What kind of results have you seen since the very first iCPooch was introduced?
Brooke: iCPooch has really taken off in popularity. So many people have reached out to me to express their enthusiasm for iCPooch. Did you know that 18 million people sleep with their dogs in their bed every night in the United States? Our dogs are like members of our family and we miss them when we’re at work, school, or away on vacation. We have lots of ways to stay in touch with the other members of our family: calling, texting, social media, and more, what about our furry friends? We need stay connected with them just like any other family member.
batteryPOP: Has iCPooch changed at all since the first one?
Brooke: When my dad and I first started working on prototypes in the garage we used all sorts of things: wastebaskets, pipe, and other materials to first determine how iCPooch would work. We ultimately worked with a mechanical engineer to help us with its final design.
batteryPOP: Can people with cats use iCPooch?
Brooke: Yes, iCPooch comes with small plastic dishes that can be stacked inside with cat kibble in them and dispensed just like dog treats.
batteryPOP: How do you fit this into your regular schedule of school and other activities?
Brooke: It can be very challenging managing my daily schedule, but with the help of my parents I somehow manage to stay on top of my responsibilities. I use a day planner to keep track of everything so I can plan the day ahead to make sure I get things done in a timely manner.
batteryPOP: Do you consider yourself a dog person?
Brooke: Yes, I love dogs. I’ve had two rescued Golden Retrievers, Kayla and Zoey, for several years. And we recently brought Noel, a 12-week-old Golden Retriever puppy into our home. The iCPooch family is getting bigger.
Thank you so much to Brooke for answering all our questions!
*Entrepreneurs are people who start their own businesses.