13-Year-Old’s Startup Lets U See Pooch When Away

Small Business Spotlight: iCPooch, @iCPooch

For an A+ school project, Washington teen Brooke Martin decided to study entrepreneurship – and wound up running her own startup.

“As an eighth grader, we had to do independent projects, and I was always interested in entrepreneurship,” says Martin, who now attends North Central High School in Spokane.

So, she decided to attend the pitch competition Startup Weekend – and her innovative concept for iCPooch was a hit. The gadget allows owners to video chat with their pets while away from home and remotely trigger the release of dog treats. Martin says the idea was inspired by her golden retriever Kayla, who has separation anxiety.

“Everyone in the audience votes on their favorite ideas … It was me and 39 adults that pitched their idea on the first night, and I got the most votes,” says Martin.

While Martin didn’t walk away with a win at the end of the competition (instead getting a fourth-place honorable mention), the enterprising teen wasn’t going to let iCPooch go to the dogs. So she and her father Chris set to work making iCPooch a reality.

Kickstarting the Company

With the help of some private investments, Martin and her father have been working away on iCPooch over the last year.

“We build prototypes in my garage – I’ve learned a lot from the experience so far, that’s for sure,” says Martin.

In order to bring iCPooch to the consumer, Martin and her team – which now includes a professional CEO, James Pelland, who has 20 years of experience at Dell and ASUS Computers – have taken to Kickstarter to raise $70,000.

“We currently have $23,000 and 250 backers,” says Martin. “We’re still hoping to get some people and pull it out at the end.”

Even if they don’t meet their goal, Martin says she and her father are determined to keep forging ahead with iCPooch. They’re still looking into different manufacturers to produce the gadget, and Martin is hopeful they’ll be able to ship it by early 2014.

Work-Life Balance in High School

In addition to running a company, Martin’s a Girl Scout, an avid horseback rider and a musician, playing both violin and piano.

“Running the company, [my parents] and I talked a lot about balance,” says Martin. She says recently bringing Pelland on board as CEO has helped her manage all her responsibilities.

While she’s hoping iCPooch becomes a runaway success, Martin says she’s no Zuckerberg wannabe -- going to college is a top priority.

“I definitely want to go to college. Being an entrepreneur would be a hobby,” says Martin.