Wendy Evans and Kaitlin McDaniel Q&A

Wendy Evans and Kaitlin McDaniel started an in-home pet care business called House Callers.

You wake up in the morning, and your dog is throwing up. You’re late to work; there’s no time to schedule an appointment at a veterinary clinic. That’s where House Collars comes in.

This past year, Wendy Evans and Kaitlin McDaniel were inspired to provide in-home care during a national veterinary innovation competition and brainstormed the idea to use veterinary technicians. The initial concept was successful, but it wasn’t until Columbia Startup Weekend in October that they realized it could actually turn into something.

“While the business idea is Kate and Wendy’s, they were very open and receptive to everybody’s input from the start,” says Charles Hutchison, a third-year law student at MU and part of the Startup Weekend team. “This definitely allowed each of our team members’ personalities to shine and strengths to be maximized.”

The House Collars team took home first place during the entrepreneurship competition.

How has winning Startup Weekend affected your business?

McDaniel: It’s been a whirlwind. A lot of fun and excitement and stress — but in a good way. After we won, we were given a list of opportunities we could take advantage of during Bringing Up Business Week in Columbia. Immediately after Startup Weekend was over, we participated in the Startup Crawl in downtown Columbia. Our agenda was very full of showcasing our idea, our proposed services, basically enthusiasm for all of this. Now that the excitement of the weekend is over, we’re really getting into the grind and putting those ideas into action.

How did you feel pitching your business at Startup Weekend?

Evans: I loved it. They said it’s really hard for science and technology projects to come to Startup Weekend because there’s so much research that has to be done. So they thought it was really cool that we had this medical service. And from the weekend, I thought we had an amazing team, and we all worked together really well. We had a lot of fun.

What challenges are you facing as a new startup?

McDaniel: Prior to Startup Weekend, and certainly even afterward, we are challenged every day by the business operation side of it. As clinically trained veterinary students, we don’t have any sort of business background other than the education that we seek out ourselves. So that is why it’s been really important for us to network. It’s just a matter of assembling the right team that can strengthen our weaker spots and carry our vision forward.

Did either of you ever expect to be entrepreneurs? 

Evans: No, actually. We’re both nontraditional students, so we came to vet school later. A lot of people that want to be veterinarians, they’ve known since they were little kids that that was what they wanted to do. Neither of us were like that. So coming into vet school, all I ever wanted to be was an Army veterinarian. And I’m in the Army now. But we both did the Veterinary Business and Management Association

 Where do you see House Collars going from here?

Evans: In the long term, veterinary medicine’s going to look really different. We saw these models of telemedicine work really well on humans, and they’re not legal yet in veterinary medicine, but some day they will be.  

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