Loren Sri-Jayantha, a student at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, advanced to the final round of the inaugural Veterinary Innovation Challenge in Philadelphia on Sept. 6 for his mobile application, PetSync.
PetSync was created to send updates and reminders to pet owners about the tasks required to keep their pet healthy and happy, according to Loren.
“It is for everyone that takes care of a pet to have an organized way to take care of them,” he said. “You can track multiple pets and have multiple people taking care of one pet. If I had a cat with three friends, I can know what has been already been done.”
Loren said that he was inspired to create PetSync by his own need to organize pet care in a house with two red-footed tortoises, a bearded dragon and a cat.
“Last year I lived in a house with four other people and a ton of pets, and we had busy schedules and couldn’t talk all that much,” he said. “There was one cat that was really fat and got many more meals than he should have because of a lack of communication about what had already been done. So we created this app to deal with that.”
Loren explained that he worked on the app with his brother, Darren Sri-Jayantha, and friend, Alejandro Ciniglio, both of whom are computer science engineers.
“I came up with the idea, and I’d been wanting to work on the project with my brother and [Alejandro] for a while,” Loren said. “They are full-time software engineers. I took computer science courses as an undergraduate, but they handled the more complex things.”
Their team was selected as one of eight finalists to present their app and business plan to judges at the competition earlier this month, according to Ciniglio.
“The judges were impressed that we had something running and people were actually using it, but there was a lot of focus for them on having a quantifiable marketing plan and thoughts about how the business would grow,” he said. “That is something that we are starting to take more seriously now.”
The winner of the $10,000 first prize, SPEAK, was also designed to track care, but it rewarded pet owners after they completed tasks, Loren said.
PetSync has not been launched to the public yet, but it is currently used by family and friends of its creators as they continue to modify and improve the app, according to Darren.
“We have already launched a version of the webapp to a small group of testers, and are working through their feedback and adding new features, mostly around what information we collect and how to present it clearly,” he told the Daily in an email. “Beyond that, we do not have a hard timeline, but we would like to make it open to the public this year.”
The creators are still looking to add a number of features before the app is officially launched. Ciniglio said he plans to add a feature that makes notifications location-sensitive.
“Most pets stay in one location — maybe around a house — so if I need to give my pet a shot I can only do that when I am at home,” he said. “So it would only notify whoever is by the house. Or if no one is near the house, maybe it needs to notify everyone so someone can decide that they need to go home.”
Ciniglio said he also wants to create a feature that allows temporary caregivers to have access to the app for the time that they are in charge of the pet.
“If a family goes on vacation and a petsitter is brought in, then it is important to know that a pet is getting shots, food and is being played with,” he said. “We want to allow the users to add the caregiver as a temporary owner.”
The group of three designers have complementary skills that they contribute to the app’s creation, according to Ciniglio.
“We balance each other out,” he said. “Loren is great at the interviewing process and getting people jazzed to try it. Darren and I have been developers for a while, and bring that skill set to the table. I have some background in project management. I’ve really enjoyed working with them.”