Local entrepreneur looking for votes in national competition
When a pet goes missing or gets lost, many owners are left wondering where their animal is located. An Oahu start-up company has developed a new device to electronically monitor pets, but it now needs to track down votes to reach store shelves.
Synette Tom-Gibi is enthusiastic about animals.
"I love pets, especially dogs," said Tom-Gibi.
Kale, a playful 19-month old Labradoodle puppy, is the latest pet for Synette.
"Our grandfather used to volunteer at the Humane Society. He didn't like euthanizing the animals, so we had dogs, cats, geese, chickens, pigs. We had our own farm," said Tom-Gibi.
After raising all kinds of animals in Windward Oahu, Tom-Gibi is now trying to raise a business that could help other pets.
"GIBI is developing a GPS service to help people quickly, accurately find their missing pets," said Tom-Gibi.
The GIBI electronic device clips onto a pet's collar and keeps owners connected to dogs or cats.
"You can press a button and up pops a Google map with the exact location of your dog, within 10 feet of accuracy," said Tom-Gibi.
With her background in electrical engineering, Tom-Gibi successfully designed the device to be lightweight and waterproof, but she's been dogged by the funding and marketing challenges nearly every start-up faces.
"Doing a start-up is really hard, but its also a great, great learning experience. I'm really passionate about this idea,"said Tom-Gibi.
GIBI is already a part of Hawaii's business accelerator Blue StartUp. Now, Tom-Gibi hopes to reach an international audience after becoming a finalist in Walmart's "Get on the shelf" competition.
"It's very hard to get into any big box store and Walmart is doing this great thing for entrepreneurs," said Tom-Gibi.
Tom-Gibi's animal tracking device is one of 20 new products selected as finalists.
This week people will get to vote on what gadget they want to see in the store. The voting takes place on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday with the winner coming out as top dog.
"If we win this contest, Walmart will take pre-orders for GIBI," said Tom-Gibi.
GIBI is expected to be launched in April of next year, with a retail price of $99 and a monthly or annual service subscription.
Tom-Gibi is also working to have it offered as a pet insurance option in the future.
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