PupPod makes dog toys for the Internet age. Their first product, the PupPod Wobbler, is a smartphone-connected puzzle toy for dogs. As dogs interact with the toy, they earn treats from a human or Bluetooth dispenser and the game gets harder as a dog gets smarter. The startup was a Winner of the first Pet Care Innovation Prize competition, winning $10,000, an all-expenses paid Pet Care Business Boot Camp for founder Erick Eidus, and visibility with investors and industry leaders.
The following is a recap discussion with Erick on what’s happened with PupPod since he traveled to St. Louis in November 2016 for the Pet Care Business Boot Camp.
What has happened with you and your company since the PCIP last year?
We finished our mobile apps and PupPod is shipping to customers. We sold out of our first production run and have received our second production run. PupPod is available for purchase here.
How have your vision and company changed since last year?
We’ve shifted from a development phase to a sales and marketing phase, and our marketing strategy has become very focused. We’ve also sharpened the way we explain our vision as a games studio building software for animals and dog toys for the Internet age.
What are your current opportunities, challenges and successes?
We recently won the Kansas City Animal Health Investment Forum’s Innovation Award and $10,000 prize, which generated press in Pet Age, Pet Guide and Today’s Veterinary Business.
What would you tell the next class of PCIP winners? Those thinking about applying?
The connections we made with our cohorts was extremely valuable. We keep running into each other and finding ways to support each other.
How has winning the PCIP helped you?
Purina provides a ton of credibility and helped facilitate a number of networking connections. It was a great experience and we are grateful for the honor of being selected.
Who would you like to give shoutouts to and why?
The support we’ve received from KONG Company and Smart Animal Training System has been invaluable. We couldn’t make PupPod succeed without their cooperation.
Bill Broun and Blair Morgan provided excellent feedback that has helped our strategy evolve. Shawna Schuh and Bryan Jaffe were great connections from PCIP. We’ve heard from multiple customers who have had direct impact on our product offering and we share their stories on our blog and Facebook page.
What are your goals going into next year?
Selling out our current inventory, learning from customers, tweaking v1 software features, ramping up our next product, and fund raising.
What’s the most interesting thing to you about being an entrepreneur in the pet care industry?
People love their dogs like a family member, so they are curious about how technology can help them take better care of their fur-baby. Humans feel unconditional love from their dogs and they want to return that gift. Innovating in this space touches customers is a very emotional way.
Think you have an idea that the pet care industry needs, and that the Pet Care Innovation Prize can help you like it helped Erick? Send us a note at Hello@PetCareInnovationPrize.com to be notified for upcoming opportunities to get recognition and support as a pet care entrepreneur.