The company takes the mental workout toy for dogs to the next level: Machine-learning based computer vision, combined with smart hardware and software solutions, creates a dog toy that never gets boring and that can be used during home-alone time. The solution is connected to the home TV. The dog gets challenges through visual and audible instructions from a trainer on the screen. Every solved challenge releases a treat from the solution’s main unit.
For this SPRINGBOARD®, panel participants with competencies within the following three :
1. Price strategy
3. US launch
Dog owners spend an increasing amount of money on their dogs – 41% of Millennials say that money doesn’t matter when it comes to their pets. Additionally, most pet owners (75%) are not willing to cut down their pet’s expenses even in a crisis situation as COVID has shown. (2020, Allianz Global Investors Fund Allianz Pet and Animal Wellbeing A). With more than 70 million dogs in the EU (2020, Fediaf) and more than 69 million households in the US owning at least one dog (2021, Statista) the market is big – and all pet-related expenses are expected to grow 6% annually.
The role of dogs has changed drastically in the last decades. Dogs are now beloved family members but have also lost many of the jobs they used to have. These days, dogs are hardly used for hunting, guarding or protecting – but are expected to provide comfort to humans and stay home alone while their owners are at work instead. This causes many dogs to be bored and under-stimulated which can lead to problem behaviours, learned helplessness and more rapid brain ageing. Which can have dramatic consequences for the dog. Dogs with “behaviour problems” are far more likely to be surrendered to shelters or even euthanized. Dogs who lack mental stimulation age quicker and can develop Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD), a cognitive disorder in dogs associated with effects similar to those of Alzheimer's in humans.
The company’s solution is created based on the concept that dogs love to use their brains and work for their food (studies show dogs rather work for food than get it for free). Every session consists of different challenges for the dog which gets him/her the chance to earn food. The difficulty of the challenges increases slowly, so it’s easy for dogs to understand the concept of the game but keeps it challenging enough to keep motivation high. Owners can schedule sessions for their dog (even while they are out of the house) and the gamification aspect of the app, keeps the owner’s ambition to not break the dog’s mental workout streak.
68 units sold (17 not delivered yet), 42 emails from US customers who’d like to buy and 176 are registered on the platform’s “Notify me” list (44 from the US).
Currently: Selling the solution with free app functionalities in Denmark only (on the website and in Den Grønne Pote)
Future: Selling the product + a subscription model, in which customers regularly get access to new challenges, livestreaming their dogs, competitions and recaps of the best workouts through the app.
Furbo, PetCube, CleverPet, Companion Pro
Six team members, 4 of which has a background in Engineering and 2 with a Marketing background. Investors and board members are all picked for relevant skills/experience.
Soft funding – DKK 1 million
Two equity rounds totaling DKK 3.8 million
Loans – DKK 4.4 million (private + Growth Fund with BA matching loan)
Working prototype tested on more than 70 different dogs, in more than 40 different homes.
Finalist in the Danish Tech Challenge 2018.
Currently displayed in Den Grønne Pote (high-end pet store in Charlottenlund) and Retail Tech Lab store in Lyngby Storcenter).
Engaged SoMe audience (+10K followers on Instagram, 120K likes on Facebook, appr. 100k monthly views on Pinterest, +40K video views on YouTube, recently launched TikTok channel with +12k video views).
2.400 newsletter subscribers.
Ongoing “Mental activation for dogs” research project with Copenhagen University.
Establishing relationships with dog trainers, vets and breeders who could be interested in selling the solution to their clients.
Non-provisional US Patent pending.
Questions for the panel
1. Price strategy – what is the right price for this product? Discussions to focus on how to set the right price for a product that is innovative and unique.
2. Communication – how do we most effectively communicate an innovative and unique product? Discussions to focus on UPS’, value proposition, etc.
3. US launch – how can we make a successful launch in a selected part of the US (e.g. California) which can serve as a platform for a full scale launch in the market? Discussions to focus on sales partners, strategic partnerships, marketing activities, etc.
4. Marketing – how can we design campaigns that will scale the product and brand awareness? Discussions to be “out-of-the-box”, creative and visionary.