Ground Zero for a Unicorn

There is a genesis to everything. An origin, the birth, that proverbial Eureka! moment.

I’ve always hated the use of the phrase “Eureka! moment” – it sounds so trite, and it’s actually a bit presumptuous when discussing startups. The eureka effect is the moment that one fully understands the solution to a previously incomprehensible problem. That doesn’t happen in startups – there is no “instant understanding” of anything other than an objective. But I digress.

Around Christmastime, 2014, slaving away at my computer, I heard my wife Paula holler from the next room “Oh no! Roland is out of water … I feel bad. You’re the inventor, can’t you make something that will tell me when his water is getting low?”

That was it. “Sure!” I hollered back, “I’m an inventor.” And so it started – 18 hours a day (a few hours off for Christmas dinner). The Alpha moment (since we’re talking dominant animals here), I though Alpha, the origin of alpha an omega continuum) was more apropos than “genesis”.

A 10 minute research project told me there were a lot of watering gadgets on the market – big, small, dog, cat, some intelligent (although double digit IQ). Drilling into Google images, I found that 15% of the companies had, unsurprisingly, already folded.

Well, I’m always the one to up the ante. To kick the 74-yard field goal in a-54 yard field goal world. A watering gizmo is a weekend job, but what is the end game?

So, over the next couple of days, here’s what I found (short version): dogs lose 6% of their body weight before they even feel thirsty. 12% weight loss is life threatening dehydration. Nursing dogs need 3-4 times more water than non-nursing dogs.

There’s more – a decline in the amount of water consumed by dogs and cats over time can be an indicator of: pancreatitis, parvovirus, and leptospirosis. Increased water consumption can be a symptom of diabetes mellitus, Cushing’s syndrome, Addison’s disease … and lots more.

I determined that any device that would be smart enough to signal water bowl level AND identify early onset illnesses had to at least be in the triple-digit IQ range.

Double Bowls V. 1
Version 2 Nutrition Tech with a 160 IQ

But then … I instantly determined that dry kibble is about 8% water, but canned pet food is about 80% water. So, if I’m going to track water consumption, I need to track food as well.

THAT was the starting point: food and water. Smart. Analytics. Things were completely out of hand within the first 2 hours. We were definitely looking at the 160 IQ range for anything that would come out of this exercise – and it did.

Over the next 2-1/2 weeks, I designed products, databases, algorithms, machine-intelligent feedback loops, and feeding and watering systems – then wrote and filed the first 6-7 patent applications prior to the Consumer Electronics Show, 2015.

Anticipating the introduction of a lot of pet technology gadgets that rushed to market, I knew that I had to get the priority date established with the Patent Office for my inventions prior to any competitive device being publicly introduced (which there were, and which will infringe on my patents once they grant).

But patents are an entirely different animal that I discuss in more depth in Patents n’ Stuff.

* Products and technology disclosed in this article are patented and/or patent pending.