Tuesday, December 5, 2017

A New Way to Interact With Your Favorite Furry Friends! - Pet Tech Start-up Takes the Pet Products Industry by Storm

As a dog owner, the hardest part of my day is seeing those sad puppy eyes every morning when I leave for work, so naturally I wanted to find a solution to this heart-wrenching problem. I researched dog-walking services and “doggy daycare,” but these options were expensive and the thought of letting a stranger into my apartment every day was less than appealing.

Luckily, my friend (also a dog owner) told me about a new pet camera, called Furbo, which not only allows you to keep an eye on your pet during the day, but also provides interactive capabilities. While the concept of pet cameras is not exactly new, the interactive features of Furbo really set it apart. Furbo is much more than a camera synced to an accompanying smartphone application. It is also equipped with two-way audio so you can talk to your furry friend. The device even sends push notifications to your cell phone that notify you when your dog is barking. The best feature, though, is the device’s treat-tossing system, which allows owners to toss treats to their pets from the mobile app.

Furbo was the debut product of Tomofun, a Seattle-based technology start-up founded in 2014 by Victor Chang. In June 2016, Tomofun launched its highly successful pet-tech project through the crowdfunding website Indiegogo, reaching its crowd funding goal in less than eight hours. In total, Tomofun raised more than $510,000 through crowdfunding. Three months later, Furbo was offered for sale in five countries and by December 2016 it was the #1 best-selling pet camera on Amazon.

The pet products industry, as a whole, is a mammoth industry. In 2016, Americans spent an estimated $62.75 billion on their pets, according to the American Pet Products Association. Even more staggering is the 2013 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which found that nearly three-quarters of U.S. households own pets. The report also found that U.S. households spent more money per year on their pets than they spent on alcohol or even men’s clothing.

Tomofun isn’t the only technology start-up disrupting the multi-billion dollar pet products industry. Mobile apps offering pet-sitting and pet-walking services, such as Rover and Wag!, have also launched recently and are becoming very popular throughout the country. As the pet-tech niche within the broader pet products industry grows, it will be interesting to see what features Tomofun adds to its Furbo in order to differentiate it from other brands. Right now, that feature is the “treat tosser”—a feature that is near and dear to my dog’s heart (or mouth, I suppose).

As you start your holiday shopping, don’t forget about your furry best friend! Furbos can be found on Amazon and the Furbo website for $249.

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