Petnet, the maker of the Smart Feeder, an appliance that feeds your pets automatically and measures health metrics, has acquired SlimDoggy to gain access to a big pet-food database and proprietary technology.
Los Angeles-based Petnet showed off its Smart Feeder at the 2015 International CES, where it was one of many Internet of Things applications, which make everyday objects smart and connected. Petnet aims to use big data and analytics to figure out how you can take better care of your pet, starting with feeding the pet the right amount.
In the U.S., pet owners are estimated to have spent nearly $24 billion on pet food in 2014. The data indicate that there are now more pets than children in U.S. households, with 180 million dogs and cats in the U.S. and more households owning a pet than having children. Additionally, consumer spending on smart home systems and products is expected to hit $39 billion by 2019.
SlimDoggy has a database of more than 2,000 kinds of pet foods and recommendations about them. Petnet will combine this data with its own data so that its Smart Feeder can become even smarter. The goal is to make feeding a pet as simple and convenient as possible. Both companies say that most pet owners are unaware of the correct portion size and quality of food to feed to their pets.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Carlos Herrera, chief executive of Petnet, in an interview with VentureBeat said that Petnet gives you actionable data, like how consistently you feed your pet the correct amount of food.
It needs to offer more, since dumb pet feeders cost only $5 to $50. Herrera said that costs will come down as the business scales. But he also said that Petnet offers something better: an intelligent and custom food evaluation and portioning system, tailored to a pet’s type, age, weight, and level of activity.
“We want the ability to understand the right portion to give your pet, and all of the ingredients in every kind of pet food,” Herrera said. “We have to understand the breed and get down to matching your pet with the right ingredients. That was the major reason we did this acquisition.”
A mobile app allows you to monitor your pet’s status, control the feeding schedule, and assign the correct portions for your pet. You can also remotely feed the pet, and you can reorder pet food from Petnet through the app. It learns about your pet over time, giving you better food suggestions and calculating the calories your pet is eating. It holds about seven pounds of food, or around two weeks’ worth.
“What smart devices are heading toward is doing things for you,” Herrera said. “It’s one thing when they connect to your phone. It’s another when they take care of a chore for you. We’re part of the smart home for pets.”
Petnet has an interesting business model. Not only does it sell the $250 Smart Feeders, it also sells pet foods. The company will expand to more pet-related smart products over time.
The American Pet Products Association estimated that spending in the U.S. in 2014 hit $58.51 billion, up from $55.72 billion. That’s a big opportunity, and it’s why Petnet has funding. The company raised $1.125 million last year from Grishin Robotics, Kima Ventures, SparkLabs Global Ventures, and Launch Capital.
SlimDoggy has a popular website for pet food, and it also has a sister site, SlimKitty.com. Steve Pelletier was inspired to create SlimDoggy by Jack, a 105-pound Labrador rescue who, using the SlimDoggy methodologies, was subsequently guided to a 25-pound weight loss.
“The amount and type of pet food is the single biggest decision a pet owner can make to impact their pet’s health. With the long and confusing pet food labels, consumers are left to guess when trying to make intelligent, healthy food and portion control decisions,” Pelletier said. “We are excited to work closely with Petnet to improve the way pet food is served, evaluated, and purchased, all the while helping to keep pets as healthy as possible.”
SlimDoggy has about eight employees, while Petnet has about 20.