By Lleyton Beinhaker
For The Diamondback
University of Maryland alum Arsy Khodabandelou will appear on Shark Tank March 10.
Khodabandelou’s app, Woof, is designed to rescue pets if something were to happen to the owner. Khodabandelou graduated from this university in 2012 as a biology major on track to go to medical school.
“I actually started my first two years at [this university] in business and international business, but my parents who are all in medicine convinced me to go pre-med, so I switched to biology,” Khodabandelou said. “I regret doing that, but I luckily got an internship out of college for a healthcare IT company.”
From there Khodabandelou was hired as a sales representative for a company in New York and was able to get software sales experience. It wasn’t until he almost got into a car accident that he came up with the idea for his company.
“I was actually driving to Bear Mountain, which is a hiking spot probably about an hour out of New York City, and my dogs were at home and I almost got into a car accident,” Khodabandelou said. “If something happened to me, what would happen to my dogs?”
That’s where Woof comes in. Launched in May of last year, Woof is an app that allows you to set up a pet profile where you are able to enter how many pets you have as well as the address of your house and a list of emergency contacts.
The app then creates a boundary around your house that stretches out 50 meters.
You set a timer on the app and every time you cross the boundary, the timer starts counting down.
If the timer goes off and you aren’t back home, the Woof support team reaches out before calling your emergency contacts and then 911.
“We’ve definitely had a few alerts go off of customers that we needed to reach out to,” said Kathryn Muela, Khodabandelou’s fiancé and a member of the customer service and support team for the company. “We just reach out to check that they are okay and most of the time, it’s a false alarm.”
Since starting up a few months ago, Khodabandelou’s company has risen in popularity. The app currently has 207 active members who either pay a subscription of $2.99 a month or $29.99 a year.
Las year, Khodabandelou sent in an application to Shark Tank, not expecting much.
“A month later they sent me an email just to set up an intro call . . . I thought it was a long shot because 50,000 people apply every year for Shark Tank and only 150 people get chosen,” Khodabandelou said.
After filming a video pitch and interviewing with the producers of the show, Khodabandelou moved on to the final stage in September where he was flown to Los Angeles to meet the Sharks.
Brian Rutland, an alum of this university and a 20-year-long close friend of Khodabandelou, said he wasn’t super surprised Khodabandelou not only decided to start his own company but also strive to appear on Shark Tank.
“He’s always been a really hard worker, a really sociable guy, a really outgoing person who had that entrepreneurial spirit,” Rutland said.
Khodabandelou’s episode of Shark Tank airs March 10 on ABC.