Czech startup Actijoy has found a way to monitor your pets’ state. As a person monitors his health, so dogs need attention to their physical condition. According to Robert Hasek, the CEO of Actijoy, the start-up team has developed indispensable devices for a dog owner, so that he can find out if his fluffy friend is sick, what diet he needs, how much he has moved during a day. With the developments from Actijoy, a person can extend the life of his pet for at least 2 years. Let’s find out the details.
What is Actijoy?
Actijoy is a system that can prolong dogs’ lives by up to two years and reduce veterinary costs thanks to the three mutually connected devices: Health & Activity Tracker, set of Smart WiFi Bowls and the Actijoy App. The solution lies in tracking a wide range of dog behavior and giving real-time data on a dog’s health to dog parents and veterinarians.
When and how did you get the idea to create such a project?
It was in 2016 when I took my dog Darwin for a run, and I noticed he wasn’t able to keep up with I started looking for some solution to get a complete overview of his physical condition and health, and there was no such product on the market. That was the first time when the idea of Actijoy crossed my mind.
Do you have any worthy competitors, and how do you deal with them?
There are a few competitors on the market such as Whistle, Fitbark or Tractive. However, none of these competitors track both activity and food & water intake. That is what makes our solution and product unique and distinguishes us from others.
What are your competitive advantages? What helps you to maintain a strong position in the market?
It is a complete system for tracking activity and measuring food & water intake in dogs. No other product on the market can do both. I believe that if you want to be in good shape, you have to monitor not only your activity goals but also nutrition. And it is the same for our furry friends. The most significant benefit of such information about your dog is that you can quickly detect if there is some deviation from normal behavior and prevent severe health issues at an early stage.
Are there any weaknesses in your product in your opinion? If yes, what kind?
We put our best into the development and testing stages to give our customers and their furry babies a high-quality product that can genuinely make dogs happier and healthier. But in the end, only our end customers can evaluate whether our product has any weaknesses or not.
Is this the first your startup or did you have another ones previously? What are these projects and on what stages they are?
I am an experienced entrepreneur with more than 20 yrs in different businesses. I have been through a number of successful projects that I established from scratch, including five successful exits. When the first thought of Actijoy came across my mind, I was running a successful online apparel shop. However, Actijoy is my first tech project. But, I must admit, I have handled it well thanks to my strong team of developers and the great management skills of my life partner Jana, the COO of Actijoy.
If you do not mind my asking, what was the investment amount for project creation and initial promotion? Was it an investor’s money or your personal savings? If it was an investor’s help, could you tell us how you found him?
We started the project with our own money with help from Angel investors, who are mainly friends and family who share the same passion for dogs. In December 2017 we were fortunate enough to meet our Seed Investor – Vafo Holding, one of the biggest producers of pet food in Europe – who has helped us to move to the mass production stage and get ready for market entry.
What experts were indispensable at the stage of creating and launching a project?
We cooperate with a team of designers, developers, and engineers who are indeed crucial for our project. However, I, as a founder and the idea maker, am always behind all the decisions.
Who are your customers? What kind of requests do they make?
For the B2C model, our typical customer is a dog parent who genuinely cares about their furry buddy, is interested in knowing how their pup is doing, and craves for more details about their health. They are also someone who likes wearables, Pet Tech products, and are familiar with using such systems to make their lives easier. Our customer wants to prolong their dog’s life as much as they can. They are also a dog parent who likes traveling or spends lots of time at work and wants to know how their buddy is doing while they are not at home.
What were the challenges during the launch and how did you cope with them?
We haven’t launched the product yet. At this moment we are finishing the mass production and certification stage. Due to some unforeseen delays during these stages, we are going to enter the market in the 1Q of 2019.
What are the most effective approaches for your product promotion?
We have participated in world-known expos and conferences such as CES, Slush, TechCrunch, etc.. This is a great way to meet inspiring people, spread the word about our project and present our ideas. The PR from such events is priceless and truly pushes you to move forward. We also talked with more than 700 dog parents at dog parks in San Francisco and presented them our idea. Their feedback was truly valuable for us as well.
What startups do you have a partnership with and how does this help you promote your project?
We are in talks with a number of startups (and not only startups) that we wish to cooperate with, mainly from the pet industry.
How to start promoting a young technology project in your opinion?
As I mentioned before, the best promotion for a new idea is to attend events dedicated to the field that gather people from all over the world with the same passions and interests. I think we would not have got so far without these opportunities that give us connections with people from the pet business.
What of your knowledge and skills were useful while launching the project?
We are just getting ready for the product launch. However, consistency, and an ability to learn and reevaluate things quickly are a must during the development stage. Even if it means remaking the project. I believe that the market launch will be the cherry on top, and the beginning of a new phase.
Would you recommend to startuppers to subscribe for the pages of any Internet communities able to provide them with some helpful information? Which ones?
The Internet is generally a great source of information. You can not only easily connect with fellow startups, but also look for communities of potential end customers to get to know them and their needs better in order to provide them with what they are asking for.
If there were no Actijoy, what another project would you develop?
Well, it is hard to say, but I believe it would be another dog project as dogs are my passion and working on products to make their lives better is definitely something that makes me happy. I already have a couple of new ideas in my head, but they will come out at the right time.
How do you see further development of your project?
At this moment the first Actijoy line is done, and we are getting ready for market entry. We are planning to open a new investment round in 2019 to help us penetrate the market more and start working on the Actijoy line 2.
What is the most valuable business advice you’ve ever received?
To never give up. I know it sounds like a cliche, but it is true. There are always ups and downs in any project, but the thing is to keep going, because persistence is an essential commodity and leads you to achieve your goals.