Community support energizes Kidney-Chek co-founder

Community support energizes Kidney-Chek co-founder

· The Pulse

Episode 36 of Bloom features an interview with Hillary Sweet, co-founder and CEO of Kidney-Chek, a saliva test that allows pet owners to detect chronic kidney disease in their cats or dogs early enough to get treatment.

Sweet said she and her co-founder Matthew Nickel felt relatively confident about the science side of Kidney-Chek — they both have PhDs in biomedical engineering, after all. But the learning curve has been steeper when it comes to the business side of the business, from incorporation to bookkeeping to packaging to SEO and beyond.

That's where Edmonton's collaborative and generous startup community has come up big.

"Everyone in the entrepreneurship and startup world is so encouraging and so willing to sit down and go for coffee and share their experience," she said. "There's been a number of times where I just needed advice or needed guidance or needed to just go have a beer with someone ... I always leave those events and feel so energized."

Kidney-Chek got going with a bit of fundraising among friends and family, as well as a grant from GreenSTEM, a pilot program to help STEM graduates commercialize science-based innovations. It is also benefiting from the Product Demonstration Program from Alberta Innovates, "which is helping us cover the costs associated with rolling the product out into the retail channel," she said.

Now that the product is in stores, Kidney-Chek is looking to raise $600,000 to bolster sales and marketing capacity and scale up manufacturing.

Learn more about Kidney-Chek's journey, and hear guest host Mack Male's takes on recent news about companies such as Wyvern, Future Fields, and Electronic Grid Systems, in the Nov. 3 episode of Taproot's podcast about innovation in Edmonton.