The Future Of Pets Is Here [Interview With CEO Of Petcube]
05 Jun 2014
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Recently, we talked about a revolutionary gadget called Petcube which allows pet owners to monitor their pets while they are not home.
To give a flashback, Petcube comes with a camera, microphone, speakers and laser which allows pet parents to watch and interact with their pets and even play with them with the laser pointer.
The device only needs to be plugged into a wall socket with a mini-USB power adapter and a wi-fi connection.
To understand the product better we caught up with the Yaroslav Azhnyuk, CEO of Petcube and tried understanding how this gadget is going to revolutionise the pet gadget industry.
Here is a quick chat.
DogSpot: What led to the inception of Petcube? Would you credit love for pets or a commercial opportunity?
Yaroslav: Petcube founder Alex Neskin had a problem with his Chihuahua Rocky, who hated being alone. Every time when Alex left for work, the dog started to scratch and bark so loudly that the neighbors could hear him. They even threatened to call the police on the little puppy, so Alex had to think of some way to distract Rocky from barking. He created an Arduino-based robot that consisted of a web camera and a remotely controlled laser pointer to play with Rocky through a web interface. That’s how the first prototype of Petcube was born. It was the love for pets that inspired the product, but when Alex shared an access to the web interface with his friends and got their positive feedback, he understood there’s a big commercial opportunity.
DogSpot: Why did you choose crowdfunding as opposed to other investment opportunities? Is it because high-profile investors were skeptical of such a concept?
Yaroslav: Crowdfunding doesn’t rule out other investment opportunities. Before going to Kickstarter Petcube raised angel funding from hardware accelerator called Haxlr8r, SOSventures and investor Semyon Dukach. Money wasn’t the main reason for our crowdfunding campaign - we wanted to assess the demand for Petcube. With our $100,000 goal achieved in less than a week, we could easily see that people needed this kind of a product.
DogSpot: The Retail price for Petcube will be above $200. Do you think asking this price is justified and how?
Yaroslav: At the moment, Petcube is priced at $199. We determine the price of Petcube device based on market expectations and our production costs and there's definitely room for experiments. We're still experimenting with the best pricing model so you can see different offers appearing on our website.
DogSpot: What is the magnitude of the response for the product months before the launch in August? Can you also share the demographics of the pre-order customers?
Yaroslav: We're seeing that after Kickstarter the amount of interest only continues to grow, even though we don't do a lot of marketing. It seems like the idea spreads itself by word of mouth.
Most of our customers are located in the USA, but we’ve also got lots of pre-orders from Europe, Canada, Asia and Australia. 60% of our customers are women and half the customers are aged 25-35.
DogSpot: What is the market segment within the pet industry according to you for Petcube?
Yaroslav: A lot of cat and dog owners use surveillance cameras to watch their pets. These cameras focus on safety, but they don't give you an opportunity of interaction, while Petcube works as a communication device that connects you to your pet. At the same time, more and more people use websites like rover.com or dogvacay.com to hire pet sitters. With Petcube, you can make the most of these services, talking and playing with your pet and making sure that she is well cared for.
Furthermore, the Petcube mobile app is meant to unite pet lovers and create a network of people who enjoy photographing, playing and sharing their animals with other members of the community.
DogSpot: There have been reports that playing with laser pointers have resulted in some psychotic disorders in certain canines. What measures have you taken to curb such a situation in the future?
Yaroslav: We care a lot about the pets' mental and physical health. We've studied the problem you are referring to and in fact there were such cases, not only with a laser but with any source of light. It appears to be quite a rare condition and source of light is usually not the reason but a trigger of animal's mental illness.
We warn every Petcube user that that the laser shouldn't be the only toy for their pet. Moreover, we’re going to limit the time of playing with every cat or dog. Finally, playing with laser isn't the only way to use Petcube - you can also watch and talk to your furry friend and interact with other pet owners, so it’s not all about making your pet chase the beam all day long.
DogSpot: In addition to the regular pet owners with home pets, what other potential applications can Petcube be applied towards (like shelters, boarding, breeding)?
Yaroslav: Before the general release of Petcube we are going to put a number of gadgets in pet shelters in the San Francisco Bay Area, so users of the Petcube mobile app will be able to play with shelter pets from their smartphones. It will let people who don’t even have a pet or a Petcube device interact with shelter pets and probably think about adopting.
There's in fact the whole "Petcube for business offering" which targets any small and medium pet business - pet sitters, groomers, shops, etc. We're going to announce the details for it later this year.
Dogspot: In context to India, do you think there is a market for such a high-tech product? Are Indians ready for Petcube?
Yaroslav: India is a fast-growing technology market and Indians tend to embrace innovations when it comes to technology. We've already got a number of pre-orders from India, so we can see a big perspective there.