When a household includes multiple pets that require different foods, feeding time can become a time-consuming process. Such was the case for Ed Hall who, after watching his mother struggle with keeping her dog and two cats from eating the expensive, medicated food her third cat, who was also a grazer, left behind, created the Tepi Technologies Inc. pet food bowl last year.
It’s a paired wireless bowl and collar device that opens and closes when the pet is within a certain range. When the pet walks away, the bowl closes, which protects the contents not only from other pets and wild animals but also from pests or possible contaminants.
The device also allows for the collection of eating behavior data.
“By monitoring eating behavior, owners can be notified when eating related health issues arise, giving pet owners the ability to be proactive instead of reactive. This leads to lower vet costs and risks by taking preemptive measures rather than waiting until surgery is required or the illness becomes terminal,” Hall said in an email.
Originally from Durham, Hall served four and a half years as a cryptologic technician supervisor in the U.S. Navy before enrolling in the entrepreneurship and business development program at University of North Carolina Wilmington. That was where he discovered a passion for business. His senior year at UNCW, he was a finalist in an annual business plan competition.
“After graduation I found that my academic business knowledge gained in the [entrepreneurship and business development] program could help small business owners that had real world experience and knowledge of their industries but had not yet been exposed to some good business practices and models that could help take their business and ideologies to the next level,” he said.
The past couple of years he’s worked with small business owners, which reignited his desire to create his own products. Then he learned his mother had to allot 15-20 minutes to every feeding time for her pets and saw an opportunity.
“I felt this was an absolutely unnecessary inconvenience with our current technological capabilities,” he said. “I found it to be a simple, affordable problem to solve with
big value to the end users.”
Now his plan is 80 percent complete, and he is currently focusing on completing the minimum viable product.
Hall is also in the process of building a team of technical professionals, veterinarians and people who specialize in consumer pet products and pet food. Tepi Tech is at UNCW’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
“There is no better way to get a startup going,” he said, “than from successful entrepreneurs with consistent track records.”
The initial product will be the food bowl, but the company’s ultimate goal is pet health care.
“There are many big things planned for Tepi Tech’s future product mix and the preventative health care ecosystem we are creating for pet households,” Hall said. “Our first focus is on our bowl and initial collar, but be assured we are building something much larger than just a clever food bowl.”