Khareem Oliver (Courtesy of Khareem Oliver)

Pet owners often think of their dogs and cats as their kids. So when Scruffy or Fluffy is lost, it can wreak havoc on owners’ lives. Khareem Oliver has seen this firsthand.

For the past 10 years, he’s volunteered at animal-rescue organizations and noticed that many animals did not have identification that could be used to contact the pets’ owners.

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“Today, animals are so important to people because people see them [as] more than animals,” Khareem told The Root. “They see them as a companion or as an added family member.”

CATEGORY: Science and Tech
AGE: 18
HOMETOWN: Miami
EDUCATION: Coral Gables Senior High School
SOCIAL MEDIA: Twitter, Instagram

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So in 2015, Khareem started Find or Found, an app that seeks to find lost pets and reconnect them with their owners. Here’s how it works: Your pet wears an ID tag that includes a QR code. Once someone finds your pet, he or she scans the QR code on the app and it identifies the pet and gives contact information for the owner. The app also would use GPS to help locate a pet in real time.

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Khareem started the research and work on the app in an entrepreneurship class. Soon after, he took his idea to Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship competitions—and won. He was awarded $8,000 in seed money to help launch the app. He also competed in the eMerge Americas pitch event where he won first place.

Find or Found recently partnered with Blubeta, a software-development group, and Khareem hopes to launch the smartphone app by early June.