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Cibos : Sports Fan Mobile App

http://www.cibosapp.com/

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Start-Ups.Co really enjoyed interviewing the brilliant entrepreneur; Mr. ‘Rick Gehman'; President of the Pennsylvania – USA start-up “Cibos”.

Below, is the full interview that we have conducted :

1. What is it exactly that you do and what your start-up is all about?

CibosApp, LLC created a mobile app for the Android and iOS platforms. The app is targeting at the sports fan and places sports scores within the users Twitter timeline. We used an algorithm to determine what game a user is tweeting about and affix the score of the game at the time of the tweet, directly below that tweet. These are called “GameStamps”. It adds context and useful information to Twitter. A tweet that would read “what a shot by LeBron #heat”, does not make much sense if you aren’t watching the game or reading it right away. Cibos allows you to follow the progress of the game through your own personal Twitter Timeline or catch up on the game later.

2. When has your startup been founded? And what stage is your startup currently at?

Our startup was founded in August 2012 and we launched our product January 1, 2014. We provided a soft-launch to make sure our servers could handle the increased traffic. After about seven days and extensive work to absolutely confirm we were ready, we fully launched our product which is currently available in iOS and Android app stores.

3. What is your startup’s business model and how does it work?

We have a few different revenue streams that are available to us. We have partnered with a company called 140 Proof that provides us with targeting ads that are built to resemble tweets. These are non-intrusive to the user experience, and perform better than traditional banner ads. This relationship is purely a CPM model. We also have the ability to sell “GameStamps” to companies or individuals. For example, McDonalds could purchase a package to offers Cibos users a BOGO offer every time they tweet. Also, we can “stamp” tweets that are specific for companies. If someone tweets that they “really want McDonalds”, we could stamp that tweet and show them the five nearest McDonald’s locations. Finally, the third revenue source, is providing an API for other apps or websites to use. We would provide our algorithm to them so they can stamp either sporting events or any other information they may need.

4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?

We have a few different revenue streams that are available to us. We have partnered with a company called 140 Proof that provides us with targeting ads that are built to resemble tweets. These are non-intrusive to the user experience, and perform better than traditional banner ads. This relationship is purely a CPM model. We also have the ability to sell “GameStamps” to companies or individuals. For example, McDonalds could purchase a package to offers Cibos users a BOGO offer every time they tweet. Also, we can “stamp” tweets that are specific for companies. If someone tweets that they “really want McDonalds”, we could stamp that tweet and show them the five nearest McDonald’s locations. Finally, the third revenue source, is providing an API for other apps or websites to use. We would provide our algorithm to them so they can stamp either sporting events or any other information they may need.

5. What, exactly, makes you different from existing options, what will make your product and/or service stand out in the marketplace? In other words what’s unique about you and what’s new about what you make?

There are certainly other social media/Twitter options available, and there are certainly other sports app options available. However, none of them connect the two quite like Cibos does. Cibos allows users to use their personal Twitter timelines, something that no other sports app allows. There is a reason that you follow the users that you do on Twitter, and we allow you do see your normal Cibos experience with a sports enhancement.

6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has your startup achieved so far?

Cibos is in its infancy. We have only been available in the app store starting on Jan. 1, 2014, so about three weeks. For ten days, we were in a “soft-launch” which required users to have a password to access the app. At the time of this writing, we have a few hundred users and are looking to pick up traction.

7. Who are your competitors? And what is your start-up’s competitive advantage over them?

Our competitors are the sports applications that have some type of social component to them. Our competitive advantage is our “secret sauce” that lies within our algorithm. We are able to determine what specific sporting event a tweet is written about with an extremely high level of accuracy and always getting better.

8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?

The biggest obstacle we face and still face is that this is our first start-up. We have business degrees, but were thrown into the start-up world with no prior successes or failures. We are learning on the fly and trying to make the best decisions possible. We have forged some valuable relations that we are trying to take advantage of, but the most important resource we use is knowledge and experience.

9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?

The mobile app space runs at a speed unlike other industries. The landscape changes every week and if you are thirty days behind a trend, you might as well be thirty years behind a trend. It is so competitive because every eleven year old, every seventy year old, and everyone in between is somewhere in the world making an app or a product to compete with you. The business is 24/7/365. We routinely do business of holidays and we are on call every hour throughout the day. It is the definition of a grind.

 10. Why are you going to succeed?

We will succeed because we have a product that makes the social media experience better for the user. The second screen experience is a real phenomenon. Users are on their smartphones and tablets while watching TV more than ever. We fit right into the growing trend and provide a solution to a problem that existed for sports fans.

11. If your startup succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?

If we are successful we have a few areas we can expand into. We can take our technology into our fields of interest. For example, stamping tweets that have to do with TV Shows, News, Movies, or Pop Culture. If we decide that Sports is our niche, we can implement other social media networks to become a more complete sports social media experience.

12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build your start-up based on?

I had the “aha!” moment when I was trying to follow sports on Twitter. We tried everything to squash the idea and figure out all the reasons it WOULDN’T work. After weeks of vetting the idea and asking Twitter users and sports fans, we had no choice but to move forward with the idea. It was a hit out of the gate and we haven’t looked back since!

13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea?

We have learned that there is no “magic bullet”. We get out what we put in. You have to network, make contacts, establish relationships to get the word out. It’s nearly impossible to just flip the switch and launch your product and have the whole world know about it. Every day is a grind and there are no shortcuts.

14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?

Hopefully our biggest problem is we have so many users, our servers can’t keep up! More likely, our biggest problem will be determining which way to go. Do we add more sports and become a full sports social media application? Do we add world news, television, and pop culture features? I think our users will tell us which way to go, but we will at some point have to make that very difficult decision.

15. What’s the benefit for the customer/user?

The user, who is a sports fan, now has everything they need within one application. They no longer read a tweet about the game and have to leave the app to check the score. They no longer have to run to the TV to find out how many points a player has because it’s in their timeline. Twitter has the ability to break news, so very often if a player or team is doing something special, Twitter is how a sports fan finds out about it With Cibos, the added context is right at their fingertips.

16. How did customers / users find out about you?

We have been leveraging word of mouth for the most part. We have run a few paid advertisements on Facebook as well and Reddit. We were featured on a few niche websites that have driven traffic to both our website and app. It’s amazing to see that we have already been downloaded in nearly every state and dozens of countries.

17. Who are your current customers / users? Who are your target customers / users?

Our target user is a sports fan that uses Twitter. We are noticing that on days that have many sporting events (for example, Sundays during the NFL season), our usage numbers are very high. If our users are watching sports, they are using Cibos. The second screen experience is so prevalent and Cibos is the perfect fit.

18. Where do new customers / users come from and what makes new customers/users try you?

We are so early into our business that it is still difficult to see where our new users are coming from. I would assume the majority come from “discovery” considering this type of application and technology has not existed before. We are hoping to pick up some traction with various websites and blogs, which we believe will bring in a large number of new users.

19. What do your customers / users say about your product and/or service?

So far, the feedback has been outstanding. We currently have perfect ratings in both the app stores in which we are available. We have heard users say “I can’t believe I ever lived without this” and “this changed the way I watch sports”. We did extensive Beta testing and received tons of feedback along the way that reflect the current state of the app.

20. How are you going to scale?

Fortunately, since we do not have a physical product that requires inventory, scaling for us is pretty straight-forward. As our users increase, so will our server demands. We may have to alter the amount of information that we store on our servers so that it doesn’t slow down the experience for the user.

21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers/users keep asking for?

We are in the works of a “spoiler feature”. For example, you’re at a wedding and your favorite NFL team is playing. You are DVRing the game at home and plan to watch it later. The typical user has to avoid social media altogether so they are not spoiled as to the results. We are working on a way to identify the game being tweeted about and REMOVING those tweets from the users timeline. Every time we mention it, it gets rave reviews and people beg us to implement it!

22. Are you going to internationalize? And if yes how are you planning to expand your start-up’s operations accordingly?

We are already downloaded in dozens of different countries. We are focused on the big 4 American sports at the moment. As we move into international soccer and different sports that have varying followings across the globe, we will need to make some adjustments. We will have to translate the apps until the different languages of which we will begin to support.

23. How big do you think you can get? Why? And how you are planning to achieve your goals?

I believe the sky is truly the limit! We could reach over one million users if everything goes right. There is certainly the market for our application. There are plenty of Twitter users and fans of all sports. We will be implementing some viral aspects to the apps. That way you can see the benefits even if you are not using Cibos. It should give users jsut a taste and hopefully encourage them to download our app.

24. Are you looking to hire a new workforce? And if yes, what job vacancies do you currently offer and where can potential applicants contact you at?

No, at the current moment we are not looking to hire a new workforce. We are comfortable with the size we are. If we were looking to expand it would be with employees who could maintain our ever-changing databases of sports teams, players, terms, etc. We also always look to improve every aspect of our company. If we can across an opportunity to have developers in-house on salary that could be constantly maintaining the applications, that would be extremely appealing.

25. Are you looking for partnership opportunities or funding from Venture Capitals (VC) or other funding sources? Or your business is self-sustainable? And if the first option applies where potential can partners / investors contact you at?

We have been funded through a seed round that allowed us to finish development, pay our largest expenses and promote the application to start. We believe we can be mostly self-sustainable when scaling, but we are always open to other funding sources. Ideally, strategic partners that with insight, experience, and funding could take us to the next level.

26. What advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?

WORK HARD! Business, especially startups, are completely volatile. You have more competitors than you can count and they are working around the clock like yourself! Simply work harder and put in the effort. Effort cannot be measured; it is between you and you!

27. Finally, do you have any other comments that you would like to add?

As with any business, we are always looking for more users. We believe we have something special that the world wants and needs! We just have to let them know we exist!

 

Verify Invertor : Accredit Investors by the SEC

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Start-Ups.Co really enjoyed interviewing the brilliant entrepreneur; Ms. ‘JL Law'; Co-Founder of the Los Angeles – USA start-up “Verify Investor”.

Below, is the full interview that we have conducted :

What is it exactly that you do and what your start-up is all about?

We verify that investors are “accredited investors” as defined by the SEC. Recent federal laws required most private companies raising capital through any form of general solicitation (advertising, pitching events in front of the public, email and social media blasts, etc.) to verify that their investors are truly “accredited investors”. They cannot rely on a simple questionnaire or subscription agreement, but must review supporting evidence to support an investor’s status as an “accredited investor”. Companies and funds need us when they are raising money, and investors need us when they are investing. Our startup provides that service to all groups in a legally compliant manner through VerifyInvestor.com. We’re fast, simple, affordable, and provide the highest quality in the industry for accredited investor verification.

2. When has your startup been founded? And what stage is your startup currently at?

Verify Investor, LLC was formed in July 2013. We launched our verification platform, VerifyInvestor.com, in November 2013. We’ve successfully closed a seed round consisting of friends and strategic investors. We’ve also been partnering with some great websites and companies that will utilize our platform to ensure compliance with their capital raises.

3. What is your startup’s business model and how does it work?

We have a pretty basic business model. We charge a per verification fee for users of our platform, with discounts available for bulk orders. For intermediaries, such as capital raising marketplaces, or professional advisors (lawyers, investment bankers, etc.) we also provide white-label or API solutions. We can offer revenue sharing with those partners or provide their clients/members with discounts. We expect that most of the paying users of our site will be companies raising money or intermediaries that help them. Investors may pay for a verification on themselves, but it’s free for them if they refer our service to the company or intermediary who then pays for it.

4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?

The company is founded by my brother, JT, and myself, so I guess we a long time ago courtesy of our parents. JT acts as the company’s CFO, and I act as the company’s CEO. We have a fantastic US-based development team that poured many hours into making sure our site looks good and operates smoothly. Brandon Foo is our Director of Operations, which really means that he helps out with a little bit of everything. We also have had a tremendous amount of help from friends who have invested money, shared relationships, and volunteered time and energy with us.

5. What, exactly, makes you different from existing options, what will make your product and/or service stand out in the marketplace? In other words what’s unique about you and what’s new about what you make?

Our founders are dealmakers and potential users of our own product. We built this to serve a need for ourselves, not to profit from others on a product we didn’t fully understand. A few of our competitors have products that aren’t even legally compliant!

We are the leaders in the marketplace when it comes to security, confidentiality, and privacy. We have a unique redaction tool. We collect less information than our competitors, have invested in technology to safeguard the information we collect, and don’t have any internal conflicts of interest that might cause us to collect unnecessary personal info or misuse such info. 

We are very simple and easy to use. It takes only a minute to set up an account and most users that need verification can complete our workflowin 3-5 minutes.

6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has your startup achieved so far?

The company has been growing quite steadily. Our company has established important partnerships that will fuel our growth, some of them with some very prominent and notable companies. We’re also fortunate enough that some venture capitalists and investors in the US and overseas in other countries have counted on us for their accredited investor verification needs. We’ve also been identified as the compliance solution for several companies that are using public capital raising platforms to conduct their raise.

We launched our product shortly after the laws became effective and have improved on the original product several times already. During that time, we also successfully closed a seed investment round with friends and strategic investors. We expect our business to be self-sustaining, so we’ll be around for a long while.

7. Who are your competitors? And what is your start-up’s competitive advantage over them?

Our competitors generally fall into the following categories and our advantages against them are explained briefly: 
1) lawyers and other professionals – We are cheaper, faster, and much easier to deal with greater security and privacy.
2) Background search companies – We are cheaper and understand capital raising and securities better. 
3) Wealth management firms – They are doing this to gain a list of rich folks that they can market to. Need I say more? 
4) Internet entrepreneurs – We generally know the laws better and have more experience in the area of capital raising and dealmaking. We also have a service that focuses primarily on quality and compliance as opposed to getting rich quick.
5) Capital raising platforms – We’re usually more legally compliant and safer to use since we are a dedicated verification service without internal conflicts of interest.

8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?

The greatest obstacle we faced as a company was the fact that the general public was unaware of how the new laws worked or that there even were new laws. Beyond that, many folks are resisting the new laws, thinking that they don’t need to comply. There was and still is a lot of misinformation in the marketplace. We haven’t overcome all of the misinformation, but are doing so by educating folks properly.

9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?

The key thing that outsiders, and even many of our competitors, don’t understand is the severity of securities laws. The securities industry is not an area to take chances. You don’t ignore the laws. You don’t try to wing it yourself. And you don’t take chances using a second-rate solution that is not committed to legal compliance. The benefits of chancing it just aren’t worth the potential liability. The key isn’t to pick any service to handle accredited investor verification needs. You really have to balance assurance of legal compliance, pricing, confidentiality and security, and ease-of-use. Dealmakers have been telling us that we are the #1 solution taking all of these factors into consideration and that we are the strongest value in the marketplace. Of course, we at VerifyInvestor.com, won’t argue with that.

10. Why are you going to succeed?

We will succeed because we have conservative business practices and a commitment to quality, confidentiality, and value. We have a clear understanding of what it takes to be legally compliant as well as what it takes to ensure investor protections. We are not taking any chances with the product because when it comes to securities regulations, the government doesn’t joke around. Our competitors generally don’t have pure business practices that focus on user protections and values. We trust that the marketplace will turn to us as the #1 trusted solution for their accredited investor verification needs.

11. If your startup succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?

This is actually one of the selling points of our startup. We don’t need to expand into other areas. We didn’t start this business to become the next internet tycoon. We started this business because there was a need for a reliable and ethical provider of accredited investor verifications, and we weren’t comfortable referring our clients and friends to any of the other providers out there. As long as our users don’t tell us they want us to expand, we don’t plan on expanding into other businesses. Most of our competitors are already expanding into other services and that’s coming at the cost of the confidentiality and privacy of their users.

12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build your start-up based on?

It started out with my legal practice. A lot of clients asked if my law firm could help them verify that their investors were accredited. We could, but not at a price point which I thought was reasonable. I searched the marketplace to see if there was anyone that could do it well, but I found many providers that were not legally compliant and most of them collected too much information of their users and had other products/services that might incentivize them to misuse the personal information of their users. I consulted with my co-founder, JT, and we both realized that there was no provider out there that we would use ourselves, much less refer to our clients, friends, and colleagues. We had no choice but to build out the service for our own needs.

13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea?

I’ve learned that it’s a lot easier to give advice than it is to run a business. Day in and day out, as a lawyer, investor, board member, advisor, and friend, I give advice to countless entrepreneurs and companies. Heck, people even pay me for it. Well, it sure is different when you’re put behind the driver’s seat. I didn’t listen to some of my own advice and paid the penalty for it at times. I made a ton of rookie mistakes even though they were the same mistakes that I’ve advised others not to make. I’ve always been a business person, but this is the first internet startup I’ve really ever been a founder with. The experience has taught me to better understand and appreciate the entrepreneurs and companies I work with and am friends with.

14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?

Six months from now, I think our biggest problem will continue to be the lack of understanding and appreciation for the new laws by the general public. Due to the amount of misinformation out in the marketplace, including misinformation spread by competitors that might not fully understand the space and special interest groups that have hidden agendas with the new laws, many folks are not being exposed to the realities of the new laws. We recently communicated with a professor of entrepreneurship who was also an executive member of an angel investment group, and he thought that compliance was not necessary because he had heard the rules were not in place yet! We thought that was pretty egregious misinformation given his position. In time, as with all new laws, people will figure out the truth. Six months from now, however, I think we’ll still be battling to get the truth out there.

15. What’s the benefit for the customer/user?

I’ll lay out some of our benefits, but if you look at our response to why we’re better than our competitors, you’ll appreciate how these benefits really manifest themselves. Our product provides a solution for something that the law requires, so I suppose the key benefit for a user is that we ensure their legal compliance with the law. In a nutshell, our other benefits are that we’re simple, reliable, confidential, secure, and affordable. I’ve touched base on each of these already in answering the question above, so I won’t repeat them here.

16. How did customers / users find out about you?

Typically, word of mouth. Our best referral source has been lawyers and other deal professionals practicing at prestigious or noteworthy firms. These are professionals that count on their reputation to gain business and that may have professional liability if something is improperly done. They care deeply about legal compliance, security, privacy, and other matters which might affect their deals. Luckily, our solution has been well-received by this group and that’s turned them into our biggest referral source. We haven’t spent any money on SEO, advertising, or social media just yet, although we plan to.

17. Who are your current customers / users? Who are your target customers / users?

Our current customers fall into three categories: 1) companies or funds that raise money, 2) investors that invest money, and 3) intermediaries (platforms/professional advisors, etc.) who help with capital raising. In a nutshell, anyone that requires accredited investor verification on an investor or any investor that needs to be verified is a target user.

18. Where do new customers / users come from and what makes new customers/users try you?

At this stage, new customers/users are generally coming from word of mouth from deal professionals. Customers are also finding us from internet searches. The fact that our product is a solution to a law that requires compliance is the starting point, and the advisors in those deals are our biggest referrers. Customers will generally try us because they are forced to comply by law, and we are recommended by their advisors. If a company doesn’t have advisors but conducts a thorough analysis of our competitors, we’re confident that they’ll understand why we are the top solution for the industry.

19. What do your customers / users say about your product and/or service?

They usually say that we are underpricing our services (except for some that are just being greedy and think it should be cheaper or free). They also comment on how easy it was to use and like how little information we collect from users. They generally like and appreciate the care we’ve taken to assure them that their information is being protected. The initial worry by many people was that compliance with the new laws was going to be timely and costly, but we’ve made it simple, fast, easy, and cheap for everyone to comply. While we’re doing that, of course, we’ve taken great pains to protect our users.

20. How are you going to scale?

We don’t need to scale. This is really a service that we built for our own use and for friends and colleagues. Of course, that doesn’t mean we don’t want to scale. We hope that we will become the standard for accredited investor verifications. We plan to scale on the basis of reputation and quality. However, since it might take a bit of time for the word to get out, we’ll also invest a little bit in marketing and advertising. We think we’ve got the best solution for accredited investor verification needs, and we want everyone to take advantage of what we’ve built.

21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers/users keep asking for?

It’s a pretty simple service that we offer, so our customers haven’t asked for that much. The two most common “asks” we encountered were demand for a badging system (so that investors could show off that they were verified) and for a white-label API solution. We’re happy to say that we listened to our users and have already developed both capabilities. Now that we’ve built out those features, I’m sure we’ll start seeing requests for other features. If we do, we’ll iterate as appropriate.

22. Are you going to internationalize? And if yes how are you planning to expand your start-up’s operations accordingly?

Yes and no. That was part of our original strategy as our founders both do a great deal of international transactions. Since the laws are only US laws, it also means that our solution is not required for compliance in any other country. However, we are international because people in other countries are doing business with the United States and those deals are often affected by US laws. If you’re a US company soliciting funds, the US laws certainly apply to you. 

As we expand, we plan to keep all of our main operations here in the US and only expand marketing arms internationally.

23. How big do you think you can get? Why? And how you are planning to achieve your goals?

Honestly, we don’t know. The marketplace of accredited investor verifications isn’t really that big. That’s part of the reason that our competitors generally have other businesses/products that they’re focusing on. For us, it’s a matter of doing something that is required by law in the best way possible, and then being able to use that service ourselves and refer it to others with pride and confidence. We haven’t really thought hard about growing exponentially, but we plan to spend some resources on marketing our product and educating potential users out there of our solution.

24. Are you looking to hire a new workforce? And if yes, what job vacancies do you currently offer and where can potential applicants contact you at?

Yes. We need folks to join our development team. If you know Ruby on Rails or are a good designer, we’re interested. We also could use more brand ambassadors – people who can help us market and educate the general public on the new laws and why we are the best solution. Lastly, we need another operations person to come help us with all the work that’s coming in. Folks can reach us at info@VerifyInvestor.com.

25. Are you looking for partnership opportunities or funding from Venture Capitals (VC) or other funding sources? Or your business is self-sustainable? And if the first option applies where can potential partners / investors contact you at?

We expect our business to be self-sustainable without any further outside investment, but we would love to partner with VCs and other funding sources as potential users and referrers of our product. We’ve already partnered with some funding sources so that they can run their portfolio companies through our platform. VCs and funding sources that raise capital from LPs using general solicitation can be users of our service because they are raising capital. Their portfolio companies are also potential users of our service. VCs and funding sources can also be users as investors that need to be verified as accredited, but who are concerned about privacy and confidentiality. Therefore, we can partner with VCs and other funding sources to provide them and their portfolio companies with accredited investor verification services. For partnership opportunities, please reach out to us at info@VerifyInvestor.com.

26. What advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?

Just do it. It’s fun, exciting, and awesome. It can get quite stressful sometimes when you’re an entrepreneur, but never give up and allow your friends to help you. Try to involve your network of friends because it’s a lot easier to do anything when you have the proper support and encouragement from others.

 

Trainoholics : Skill Development Arena

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Start-Ups.Co really enjoyed interviewing the brilliant entrepreneur; Mr. ‘Sandesh HS'; Founder of the Karnataka – India start-up “TRAINOHOLICS”.

Below, is the full interview that we have conducted :

1. What is it exactly that you do and what your start-up is all about?

As a Personality Enhancement Center, our core emphasis lies on heightening your confidence and launching you onto a platform that will enable you to “Achieve the Impossible”.

Our inspiration is our drive. Our methodology, though perceivably simple, is quite challenging too.

We deliver amazingly super rich programs and deliver flawless services in Soft skills/Life skills.

2. When has your startup been founded? And what stage is your startup currently at? [Read more…]

The Pam Wash : Clean Dog Paws

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Start-Ups.Co really enjoyed interviewing the brilliant entrepreneur; Ms. ‘Katie Mulich'; Founder of the Kansas start-up “ThePamWash”.

Below, is the full interview that we have conducted :

1. What is it exactly that you do and what your start-up is all about?

The Paw Wash is a product that is used to both clean dirty, muddy, sandy, dusty dog paws and to help with their health too. For example the Paw Wash helps with pet allergies or when a dog cuts/hurts paws you can soak the paw in the Paw Wash with medication to help heal it.
We also have The Paw Wash Mitt that is used for the final dry. It is made out of microfiber that is safe for your washer and dryer.

2. When has your startup been founded? And what stage is your startup currently at? [Read more…]