Andrew Ulrich: Gamifying Pet Parenthood

Startup founder Andrew Ulrich has co-founded three startups, one of them a Pokemon Go like location-based experience gamifying pet ownership. Paw City by Petshack was built in a Purina-backed hackathon with co-founders Beau and Kit and nurtured in the Innovation Hours program that their employer 1904labs used to foster innovation.

Describe pet tech and what you do.

Well, it’s basically different apps and devices that give you more things to do with your pet or more information about your pet. For example, there are smart collars that your pet can wear that tell give you health information about your pet and treat dispensers that you can control remotely so you can give your pet treats even when you’re not there.

How diverse and inclusive is the Pet Tech Ecosystem?

This industry is very focused on pets, and I think this creates a very unifying atmosphere, as it’s something that people from any background can find in common. We often hear about pet owners’ tendency to connect with someone else’s animal, creating a shared connection that can be the seed for a healthy relationship with the other owner that is totally independent of either party’s background. It’s yet another facet of our life that shows us we are more alike than different.

Who are your favorite people in the Pet Tech Ecosystem and why?

Mark Donavan at NestlΓ© Purina was a huge influence to our team when we were first starting out. He has a wealth of experience that he readily shares. He and Brian Lester were consistently at our side for the first year, generously helping us with advice and connections. I would also like to mention all the pet owners at 1904labs who volunteered to share their experiences with us, test out iterations of the product, and generally support us with feedback and advice. They were pivotal at a time when we were struggling to engage with our audience.

What do you do to keep your batteries charged?

My cofounders and the community that supports us is what keeps me going. Companies like 1904labs and Purina who gave us the resources to keep going, the people who constantly encourage us with their enthusiasm to support the startups in this city, and my cofounders who press on, working steadily to make our dream a reality.