Q: What was your vision for the product when you started on this journey? Has it changed at all?
The vision hasn’t changed massively. Our technology allows you to recognize the habits of your pets, or really, more importantly, changes in habits. That was the original goal and that’s still the vision. What’s changed is the rise of IoT. We started this journey a number of years ago. Today, the availability and adoption of IoT products for consumers has increased drastically, and in turn, so has the expectation of IoT companies. Users are also much more open to IoT enabled products, compared to when we began. Now they have a frame of reference, they know what IoT is and what it does. If anything’s changed its consumer acceptance and familiarity.
Q: You’re selling a connected pet door, but it’s developed into so much more than that. Tell us about that.
The Microchip Pet Door Connect combined with the Sure Petcare app is a window into the daily routines of your pet: when they’re coming and going. This was always the plan. What we didn’t initially anticipate was how it makes users feel more mentally connected with their pet. For example, recognizing changes in routines, and how that can be a powerful monitoring device. Cats are brilliant at masking signs of illness or weakness. So to have something that identifies changes can be life-saving to pet owners. One of our customers told me that they noticed their cat suddenly changed its patterns of behavior going in and out of the house. Taking a closer look, the customer discovered it had a wound under its fur. Ultimately, the cat ended up being fine, but if the owner hadn’t had the Pet Door Connect to identify the change in behavior, it may be have gone un-noticed and could have become infected or led to a bigger health issue. It’s nice to know that owners are seeing the added benefit of peace of mind.
Q: What are you most excited about now that your product has fully launched?
First, I am really excited about the amazingly positive reaction we’ve received from our customers since launch of the Pet Door Connect. This is just the beginning of our journey towards an ecosystem of connected pet products.
I’m also excited about the data we’ll be collecting and the good that data can do for pet health. Today, we can cull general information about the routines and habits of individual pets. In the future, we will be able to gather even more, general information including nutrition, environment, and activity, that can hopefully help drive forward veterinary medicine.
Q: Looking back on the journey of concepting, building, and launching an IoT connected product, what advice would you give to others thinking of doing the same?
When we started this journey with the Pet Door Connect, IoT was immature and we had a steep learning curve to overcome. We were experts in creating electronic products and industrial design, but the IoT was a new challenge for us.
My main piece of advice is to define your goal and always stay 100% focused on it. It can be easy to get lost in all the IoT technology, so know upfront what you are trying to achieve for the consumer (or pet) and make sure you continually check to make sure your activities are mapping back to that goal. Select your IoT technology platform based on that. Stay focused on your customers, your business model, and your user experience. And, also, don’t go at it alone. Choose partners – like the Xively team – that are experts in the space so they can take the technical pieces of IoT off your hands so you can keep the focus on your core business.
Q: What’s next for Sure Petcare?
Our vision is to create an ecosystem of connected products that can help customers monitor their pets from a variety of avenues – feeding, activity, overall health. We’re planning to launch four new connected products in the next year which will serve as the foundation for that ecosystem. Through applied technology, our ecosystem will proactively enhance the lives of our pets and their owners by providing invaluable insights into the pet’s activity and well-being. The activity insights, combined with the owner’s deeper understanding of their individual pet’s behavior, can identify any changes in the normal behavioral patterns in the pet, highlighting wellbeing concerns before they become a serious issue. We’re excited for the future of pet health – it’s going to be “pawsome”!