It’s not just humans who need wearable technology to keep on top of our health. With 70% of dogs said to be overweight, Ravi Sharma was inspired to create a Fitbit for pets-style dog activity tracker and launched PoochPlay
Look around any street and you’ll likely find someone gazing intently at their watch as they record their steps and calories burned for the day. Wearable technology has become a modern phenomenon but now it’s being embraced by pet owners, with PoochPlay claiming to sell the world’s first dog activity tracker.
Founder Ravi Sharma was inspired to create the Fitbit for pets-style tech after hearing statistics suggesting almost three-quarters of dogs are overweight, while many owners aren’t clued up about how to make sure they are fit as well as fed.
In an interview with Compelo, he explains how the idea came about and why he believes wearables for dogs could be the next big thing in the pet industry.
What is PoochPlay and why is a dog activity tracker needed?
PoochPlay is a dog activity tracker and well-being management app that recommends diet and activity plans tailored to your dog, based on breed, health, weight, sex and age.
Paired with the activity monitor, the app tells the user precisely how active the dog has been and can calculate if your pet is too thin or overweight.
This specific feature is something vets are urging owners to consider more frequently, as research has shown that 70% of dogs are overweight.
There is also a lack of awareness amongst dog owners, with 60% admitting they don’t know the level of exercise their dog needs. PoochPlay takes all of that into account and provides a solution.
When was PoochPlay set up and how has it grown since?
I set up the company in 2016 when I was feeling unfulfilled in my job.
I decided to create two lists – one of all the things I was good at, and the other of everything I truly loved in life. ‘Engineering’ topped the first list and ‘dogs’ topped the second, and PoochPlay was born.
Soon after that, I secured funding from investors and used this money to hire a team to bring PoochPlay to the market.
We’re currently based in TechHub London, a global community for tech entrepreneurs, and we now have over 10,000 users.
Dog wellbeing appears to receive more attention now than previously. Why do you think this is?
Absolutely. Everyone from food manufacturer to vets and other pet supplies companies have been focusing on dog wellbeing.
The cost to pet owners for treating dog obesity-related conditions is about £215m a year and obesity in dogs reduces their lifespan by up to two years.
All of this can be avoided by raising awareness about dog wellbeing, and it is great so many people are involved.
How do you think pet care more generally can benefit from tech like the dog activity tracker?
With PoochPlay, we wanted to create an ecosystem that would help dog owners take care of their dog’s complete wellbeing effortlessly.
We knew the value was in capturing information and translating that into something meaningful and actionable, and technology has enabled us to create this.
As a couple of examples, we’ve created the world’s largest database of dog food with all of the nutritional content and programmed our app to capture all the personal data of the dog.
Who is a typical PoochPlay user and what would they previously have done before the dog activity tracker was available?
A typical PoochPlay user is anyone who owns a dog and a smartphone.
PoochPlay plans and tracks your dog’s activity, and in turn uses this data to tell you how much you should feed your dog in grams.
PoochPlay is the first ever app in the world to provide this information.
Until now, the dog owners didn’t know how much to feed their dogs and they would use a feeding guide that would give the users an approximate value, which has been one of the leading causes of obesity in dogs.
We’ve introduced a behaviour change in the pet owners by helping then feed their dogs right and, in turn, add up to two years to their dog’s life.
How does your business make money and how do you plan to grow revenue?
The tracker retails at £39.99 but the accompanying app is completely free.
We make money by selling the trackers, although we are not motivated to make massive profits by simply selling trackers.
We will grow our revenue by providing meaningful data to pet owners about nutrition, which will be available at a premium.
We are also working on alternative revenue streams by offering other services to the pet owners that we will be launching soon.
Which countries is PoochPlay available in right now and do you plan to launch elsewhere?
We’re currently in the UK as it is the largest dog-loving country in the world. Our trackers work globally, and we do ship worldwide.
However, right now we plan to go deeper rather than wider, to keep our focus on one region.
Once we’ve helped most of the dog owners in the UK, then we will certainly expand overseas.
How much funding and investment have you received to date?
When I first started PoochPlay, I put the initial cash in to get it off the ground and then raised £250,000 through angel investment.
What does the future hold for PoochPlay and how big do you think the dog activity tracker can become?
We are constantly growing and advancing, and have great relationships with dog food companies because we provide dog owners with the most accurate feeding guidelines.
We’re planning to further develop these partnerships this year, which will help us hit our targets.
Monetary targets aside, the real measure of success for me is to make PoochPlay a tool used by every dog owner (there are more than 100 million globally) to manage their dog’s complete wellbeing and hence making the owner as amazing as their dogs think they are.