Dublin startup uses tech to trap the pests

Dublin startup uses tech to trap the pests
Pest Pulse founding team members John O'Gara, Brian Monaghan, Wassim Magnin, Tim O'Toole

Pest Pulse, which recently launched in the UK, now has its eyes on the US, writes Trish Dromey.

With the development of a 21st-century sensor activated, internet-connected smart rat trap, Dublin startup Pest Pulse is aiming to revolutionise the pest control industry.

Last September, it launched a new pest control service using a smart trap.

“This is a patent pending rodent trapping device with a snap bar which instantly and humanely kills rats and mice and which has sensors which let us know when it is triggered,” said company co-founder Tim O’Toole.

Registered in 2017, the company set out to devise a way to control rodents without using poison.

“Some 99% of pest control companies still depend on poison but since 2017, its use has been severely restricted by EU regulation because of its effect on wildlife,” said Mr O’Toole.

The company also set out to bring change to an industry which has traditionally been labour intensive, used paper reporting and operated by sending out personnel to carry out regular checks.

“It is a requirement for food service companies to have pest control and to have pest checks every month.

Our technology uses smart devices to monitor our customer sites 24-7 which means these regular checks are not required as the devices report their status automatically every day,” he said.

The triggering of the device sends information to the company for it to send a local service provider.

According to Mr O’Toole, Pest Pulse is one of only a very small number of companies worldwide offering a technologically advanced pest control solution.

“We provide the service at the same price as traditional pest control companies,” he said.

Experienced in this area because his family owns a large pest control company, Mr Toole worked for Google Maps before setting up Pest Pulse with co-founders Brian Monaghan, John O’Gara and Wassim Magnin in July 2017.

Dublin startup uses tech to trap the pests

Looking for a business idea, they hit upon pest control as an industry which could be transformed by technology and which presented an opportunity because of the restrictions on the use of poison.

Raising €300,000, they set up an office in Harcourt Road in Dublin and began working on the technology and researching the market.

“Globally, the pest control market is worth €17bn and the UK market is worth €600m,” said Mr O’Toole, explaining that 65% of the market in Europe involves rodent control and that most pest control in Europe is required by commercial operations.

Developing the technology and the hardware, the founders searched out a Chinese manufacturer and located a company in the North to assemble the parts.

Launching in September, their key targets were large food retailers, restaurant and fast food chains, as well as data centres and pharmaceutical firms.

The Irish franchisee for US-owned fast food chain Five Guys was the first customer, using Pest Pulse in outlets across Ireland.

“Other customers include Fresh Supermarkets and the National College of Art and Design and we are carrying out trials for another large fast-food chain and a UK retailer,” said Mr O’Toole.

Although it’s only five months since the company started trading, the market response has been good, he said.

“In January, we launched in the UK with a number of high street brands,” he said, adding that he expects UK market to account for 90% of its sales this year.

Development is now being completed on a high tech device to kill flying insects, which will be launched in the summer, and another for crawling insects for release in October.

This will equip Pest Pulse for a US launch in 2020.

In the US, controlling crawling insects such as termites and cockroaches is the largest part of the market, while controlling flying insects also accounts for a significant slice.

Mr O’Toole sees an enormous opportunity for Pest Pulse.

Currently employing seven people, it is recruiting an additional three staff.

Pest Pulse expects to sign up to a €1.5m seed funding round within a few weeks.

“Our goal is to have a staff of 60 and a turnover of €10m within three years,” said Mr O’Toole.

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