NYC-startup PlayDate aims to rescue your pet from loneliness and boredom!

eing locked up at home with nothing to do seems to be boring for you and also for your pet. Here’s how PlayDate will help you to engage your dog’s or cat’s mind and body anytime, anywhere!

Many pet-lovers feel bad and guilt daily as they leave their beloved ones alone. At the end of the day, pets are a lot like us humans — they can become depressed, develop eating disorders and sleep excessively. How to minimize the stress your dog or cat might be facing? NYC-based startup PlayDate has a solution up its sleeve.

How It Started

Back in 2013, Kevin Li left AT&T Labs to work with his former classmate Anthony Chien on a newsreader application that would provide users with a timeline of events over the past. A startup failed later that year but lead to a completely different venture in a pet tech industry.

Connected pet tech is one of the hottest trends in the pet industry right now. According to the Consumer Technology Association, in 2018 the market for emerging U.S. pet tech, which includes devices for monitoring, entertaining, feeding or tracking the activity of pets, will rise up 20 percent over the last year and earn $233 million in revenue.

Americans spend $44 billion per year on pet supplies, according to CNBC. Photo: PlayDate

After adopting Hulk, a Rhodesian Ridgeback mix, from a shelter, Kevin clearly saw the need for an activity tracker for dogs — a wearable device to keep an eye on your pet’s exercise, health and location. He wanted to make sure that Hulk goes to variety of places and built a tracking collar with camera onboard for walks around the city.

Tracking collar was a great idea but with a major flaw: his dog didn’t need more tracking, he needed more fun time with his owner. PlayDate founders consulted with a canine cognition expert who suggested making a self-moving ball to pique pet’s interest. That is when the idea of remotely controlling the pet toy was born.

To avoid new pitfalls, Kevin decided to use crowdfunding to get an idea off the ground. The Indiegogo campaign quickly surpassed its financial goal and received a $100,000 award in flash funding. Supported by accelerators, PlayDate got the initial funding + consumers support to bring their vision to life.

A smart pet toy comes in two sizes: 3” and 4”. Photo: PlayDate

‘PlayDate isn’t just another dog toy. It’s a great new way for pet owners to communicate with their furry friends,’ says Kevin Li.

The device shaped as a tennis-sized ball can be controlled from an iOS or Android device from anywhere and anytime. It has 5 Megapixel, 160 degree wide angle camera inside that gives owners a unique glimpse of their pet. As the ball rolls and steers around, a camera captures footage of the animal in action.

A smart pet toy comes pre-programmed with a squeak sound, which you can activate using the smartphone app interface. It is designed for active dogs and comes in a durable polycarbonate body with a rechargeable battery.

Playdate pet toy can endure heavy roughhousing even the most rambunctious pets. Photo: PlayDate

Since the successful crowdfunding campaign, PlayDate has gone on to become one of the top-selling smart pet tech toy devices on the market and is seeing an increased investor interest. In 2018, it succeeded in attracting a great investment round from Makers Boot Camp’s MBC Shisaku Fund. Currently PlayDate team is working on the development of new products and planning to work with vets to prevent animals’ diseases by tracking their movements.

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