Meet entrepreneur Gilad Rom, the founder of Huan. After spending years working as a Solutions Architect, Rom decided to quit his job and start his own business. Working out of Hub101, building sensors and testing them at the dog park next to the co-working space, the next step is to grow Huan in Agoura, Oak Park and Westlake.
Huan is a company developed to automatically find missing pets. Through smart dog tags attached to the pet’s collars, signals are sent out every few seconds to an app installable on smartphones. This way, every time a pet is near your phone, it can pick up the signal and let the owner know where it is. The era of putting up posters and flyers for missing pets is over, because Huan will help you locate your missing pet.
Rom got the idea for the startup when he almost lost his own puppy, when he was on a road trip in Northern California. Rom left his dog inside the Airbnb he had rented, and made sure the door was locked before he went down the street to get dinner. When Rom returned, his dog was sitting outside the Airbnb, by his car, waiting for him to return.
“I had no idea what was happening. Apparently, the owner’s parents came in unannounced, and they knew the code,” Rom said. “They didn’t know there was a dog there, and my dog didn’t know this strange place and these strange people.”
Even though Rom was able to find his dog and bring him back home, he recognizes that this is not the situation for every dog owner who has their dog go missing.
“I was very lucky that he decided to sit by my car, because he could have taken one wrong turn and I would have never seen him again,” Rom said.
Rom said he has been in the startup industry for a long time. He started out working in Israel, before the company he worked for was acquired by the Swedish company Ericsson, and he eventually moved to Los Angeles.
“A couple of years later I realized that I didn’t want to work for a big, multinational corporation anymore, so I quit, took six months off, and then the incident with my dog happened,” Rom said.
After nearly losing his dog, Rom said he started thinking about what he could do to help solve the problem of missing pets.
“Because if it happened to me, it could happen to anyone. I thought I was being the most responsible person ever, and it still happened,” Rom said.
Huan is doing very well as of the moment, with more than 2000 users nationwide, and more than 1000 of them located in the Los Angeles area. However, Rom already knows what the next step for Huan is.
“We’re trying to build a network of sensors, that can pick up the signal from the tags I make,” Rom said. “The goal is to make this area a ‘pet safe’ area, where pets won’t go missing anymore, because they still do all the time,” Rom said.
Rom said Founder and Community Manager of Greg Monterrosa has connected him with the mayor, and Executive Director of Hub101 Michael Panesis has connected Rom with the property owners to set up testing.
As Huan is developing and expanding, Rom is looking to get in contact with student who would want to intern with Huan, and grow their experiences with entrepreneurship, content creation, design or writing blog posts.
Mia Severance, a student worker at Hub101, said there are several advantages of interning with a startup business.
“For one, you get to participate in creating your role and job within the company. As opposed to ‘that’s just the way we’ve done things,’ there is constant innovation and therefore constant inspiration,” Severance said. “Even as an intern you feel your ideas are valid and your voice is heard, and there is less if a hierarchy, which allows ideas to flow.”
Rom said he used to go to the dog park next to Hub101, but never knew the co-working space existed. It wasn’t until he went to a meetup in Camarillo, and got introduced to someone who invited Rom to a meetup at Hub101, that he discovered the space. Ever since, Rom has been using the space for meetings, networking and developing of his business.
“After that I started coming here, and use the workspace to set up meetings. I also meet with the people who are helping me with the sensors at Hub101,” Rom said.
Rom also emphasized that you do not have to own a pet to use Huan, and that everyone can be of help.
“Every person who joins becomes part of a network, and can help find missing pets, even if don’t own one yourself,” Rom said.