Pest Pulse’s smart trap catches rats in a snap

14 Jan 2019

From left: Brian Monaghan, Tim O’Toole, Wassim Magnin and John O’Gara. Image: Pest Pulse

Our Start-up of the Week is Pest Pulse, a tech company that has developed a patent-pending smart device for rodent control.

Pest Pulse is a technology-led company that is using smart devices and software to offer a superior pest control service,” explained co-founder Brian Monaghan.

The company was founded by four friends including Monaghan, Wassim Magnin, Tim O’Toole and John O’Gara.

‘Our first patent-pending smart device for rodents lets us know the status of a rodent snap trap at all times’

The company’s platform performs continuous monitoring rather than quarterly or monthly inspections, and its rodent traps are 100pc non-toxic.

The market

According to Monaghan, pest control is a €15bn-a-year industry.

“We’re targeting commercial customers initially like restaurants, factories and offices, which is about half of the market size.

“The problems that they face are a poor manual service that isn’t preventing infestations, and increasing costs due to increasing restrictions on poisons and higher compliance standards. We’re able to offer customers a superior service at the same price they pay today.”

The founders

Monaghan’s recent background is in scaling venture-backed start-ups Irish fintech CurrencyFair and food-delivery-as-a-service company Zoomer.

“Prior to this, I worked for six years in Paddy Power. Tim’s family business, PestGuard, is Ireland’s largest independent pest control company and he brings a wealth of pest control knowledge. In addition, he has worked in Google and eBay, a rare tech and pest control combination.

“Our hardware guru, Wassim, has developed smart devices for customers like Intel and AT&T while in internet of things [IoT] start-up Firmwave and the Tyndall National Institute. John has built numerous SaaS and logistics platforms, for companies such as Grubhub, Intercom, Paddy Power and Zoomer.”

The technology

Image of a modern machine for catching rats.

The Pest Pulse smart, connected rodent trap. Image: Pest Pulse

The start-up’s offering to customers is a package of smart devices, software and services.

“Our smart devices monitor customer sites 24/7,” Monaghan said. “Our first patent-pending smart device for rodents lets us know the status of a rodent snap trap at all times.

“When there is a trigger, this data is instantly relayed to our platform. This allows us to dispatch a technician when actually needed and solve issues before they become major problems.

“Our goal is simple: we want to be the market-leading pest control company. We hope to achieve this by always offering the best service for customers through a technology-led approach.”

It’s a rat trap and you’ve been caught

The team has been building Pest Pulse for the past 16 months and has achieved a lot in that time.

“We’ve designed a patent-pending first smart device for rodents, our hardware/software is functioning great end-to-end and we launched our initial pest control customers. We are raising a seed investment round now; hopefully there will be interest, despite the unglamorous and contrarian nature of pest control.”

Monaghan said that the company has a unique blend of software and hardware expertise.

“Many people say that ‘hardware is hard’. With Wassim, it isn’t hard. But it still is long. Well, longer than what fits with the traditional start-up mantra of ‘move fast and break things’.

“As such, we’ve had to carefully make sure that our core areas – hardware, software and commercial, which are quite different – remain aligned and moving in step with each other.”

Monaghan’s view on the Irish start-up scene echoes the sentiment of another great Irish hardware entrepreneur, Liam Casey of PCH Global: “Geography is history.”

He said: “Start-up scenes continue to vary wildly depending on where you are. The Bay Area has peaked but it is still the gold-standard start-up scene with its abundance of talent, quality mentors, highly risk-tolerant investors and enormous capital stacks. London, Boston, Austin [and] Berlin are all flourishing with brilliant start-ups coming through.

“The beauty of start-ups, though, is it’s possible to make a great start-up from anywhere – Qualtrics is out of Provo, Utah, and recently sold for $8bn,” said Monaghan.

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John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years