Irish start-up brings computer mice to pest control
Pest Pulse is applying Internet of Things solutions to keep rodents under control
Pest Pulse founders John O’Gara, Brian Monaghan, Wassim Maginn and Tim O’Toole.
Pest control is a cost that businesses have to take on the chin as they can’t afford the risk of an infestation by things that creep or crawl. But Brian Monaghan, chief executive of new pest-control services provider Pest Pulse, says companies are spending too much on old-fashioned, inefficient monitoring systems to fix a problem that doesn’t exist for most of the time.
Normally, businesses pay an annual fee for pest control which includes regular site visits. But rodents and other pests don’t infest to order, so a problem could begin as soon as the technician’s back is turned. With the next visit not scheduled for maybe a month, the situation could easily get out of hand.
“Commercial pest control customers generally care most about being compliant and preventing infestations. However, the current and widely used business model doesn’t actually prevent infestations from happening,” Monaghan says. “The industry has been operating the same way for years with very little technology involved and a largely paper-based reporting system. Our product has technology at its core and our model removes wastage, identifies problems immediately and resolves them quickly.”
The company’s service is based on the use of smart trapping devices that are monitored 24/7. If a device is triggered, this information is immediately relayed to the Pest Pulse platform and a technician is dispatched to deal with it. “We only send technicians when needed to solve a problem before it becomes a major issue,” Monaghan says.
Pest Pulse was founded just over two years ago and has four co-founders whose experience spans startups, software development, pest control and Internet of Things (IoT) hardware.
“The family business of co-founder Tim O’Toole is Pestguard, which is Ireland’s largest independent pest-control company, and Tim has a deep knowledge of the industry despite going off to work for Google and eBay over the past 10 years,” Monaghan says. “He always wanted to improve the industry through technology and when the co-founders [who have all know each other a long time], came together to brainstorm on start-up ideas we realised there was a massive opportunity to use technology profitably in the pest control area.”
Development of the company’s smart device has been ongoing for the last year and the venture has been funded to the tune of €250,000 by private investors. The company’s launch product is the rodent box but there are follow-on products in the pipeline to tackle flying and crawling pests. The rodent box itself is bought off the shelf. The added value is the retrofit of the company’s patent-pending smart sensors linked to the IoT.
Monaghan says the company’s service costs roughly the same as commercial customers are currently paying but Pest Pulse offers then a bigger bang for their buck. “Apart from a much more immediate and accurate response, our platform also makes data easily available and includes real-time alerts, reporting, analysis and multi-site management. This easy access to key information is of real value to businesses, especially those with multiple outlets such as supermarkets,” he says.
Pest Pulse is in its launch phase in Ireland and the UK at the moment and has just signed its first customers. “We’re starting with the commercial sector and focusing particularly on restaurants, bars and cafes. We’ll then expand into factories, retail, hotels, offices, apartment blocks and more. As the smart home starts to take off, we’ll also move into the residential market,” Monaghan says.
Pest Pulse’s competitors are the really big names in international pest control, but Monaghan is sanguine. “They could try to replicate what we’re doing and put greater resources behind developing it but they would struggle with disrupting their existing operational model,” he says. “Their focus is on regular visits and it’s all about scheduling and route density. That’s been their way and what their customers expect for the last 100 years.”