These engineering students have developed smart wearables to make pet parenting easy
Classmates and students of Electronics and Communication at PES University, Bengaluru, Vismaya BN, Pallavi G, and Prarthana Bhat have been pet parents.
Having multiple pets maybe fun, but there are diverse challenges while monitoring what they eat and how they exercise. And thus, the trio started, a pet wearable company, as a small college project to look after their own furry friends.
“I have a dog, Ksheera, and a cat called Dora. I could never track what food the pets were eating, because the bowls used to get interchanged, and Dora would eat Ksheera’s food. As a result, one of them became overweight and the other became neglected as her walks became short. I noticed similar problems faced by my friends, and that’s how the idea of pet wearables came to our mind,” says Pallavi.
Fond (Feeding and Network Observation of Dogs) may have started as a small college project, but is now a full-fledged startup after the founders pitched it to PVL (PES Venture Labs) to develop the products and received $200,000 in funding. PES Venture Labs has been set up by PES University, while Suresh Narasimha of Co-Create Ventures, an investor, manages the fund and the Venture studio.
Smart ecosystem of devices
Fond is a smart ecosystem of electronic devices that gives overall health and lifestyle insights of their pets to pet-parents through the Fond app.
It offers two products - Foodie and FlufFit. Foodie is India’s first smart automatic dry food dispenser for pets that is compatible with almost all products of the famous food brands of India. The FlufFit is a pet fitness and health tracker. Fond FlufFit and Foodie work together as a system to enable remote monitoring of pets.
Vismaya explains, “Foodie is a smart pet food dispenser with a rigid fibre body that’s all chew-proof. The top overhead container is made of transparent acrylic with an acrylic lid and can easily store up to 2kg of pet food depending on the kibble size. The transparent overhead container allows easy access for you to check the food level and refill the container, however, being strong enough not to be knocked down by your pet.”
Foodie is compatible with dispensing all varieties of dry foods from famous food brands including Pedigree, Royal Canin, Drools, Me-O, Whiskas, Purepet, etc. The food bowl is covered with an automated acrylic lid to ensure food consumption is limited to the pet wearing the paired Fond FlufFit, also preventing insect infestation. Foodie needs to be paired with its corresponding FlufFit using the Fond app to begin.
Fond, as an ecosystem, alerts the user in case of abnormalities and gives meaningful health insights to the pet-parent. The pet’s health records can be of great help during vet visits. In short, a pet parent can be assured of their pet’s well-being, even when they are away.
The Fond FlufFit is a smart pod that sits comfortably on the collar of your pet and records its daily activity and body temperature for the day. The pod is made up of strong plastic with a C-type charging port. The pod, once charged, runs straight for up to 57 hours depending on the usage. FlufFit gives useful health insights and alerts about the pet to the user via the fond app. FlufFit can be used as an individual device or as a combo with the Fond Foodie.
“Our product is for passionate pet parents, and we are starting out by targeting urban families in India. It makes the process of taking care of pets much easier, thus making life for both pets and pet parents smooth. It would encourage people to give more dogs a home and thus, a better lifestyle. When we humans have such a sophisticated health system, we owe it to the animals to have one too,” says Pallavi.
FluFit is priced at Rs 5,999 while FluFit plus Foodie come at Rs 9,999.
Towards a healthy pet lifestyle
Fond launched its products for pre-booking on January 1 this year and operates on a D2C model by selling the wearables through this website and other online ecommerce channels.
Globally, while there are some key players to compete with in the pet wearable space, Pallavi says the feeder is one-of-its-kind.
“Although we have competitors, our USP’s are critical in overall pet wellbeing, and they set us apart. We are personalised and dive deep into healthy pet lifestyle. It is difficult to talk about growth, as we just launched our products, and we are very excited to see the responses we are getting. The journey has been great so far as we didn't imagine that we could get a product out even before we graduate. We would love to see what life has in store for Fond,” she adds.
As Fond was born amidst the pandemic, it slowed down the manufacturing process owing to supply chain issues and continual lockdowns.
“Since we have a hardware product, it was difficult for the team to work from home. Occasionally, our house would become our offices cum warehouses and the team would gather there. We want to grow the Fond Family and make it big in the pet-care industry. We are taking every step required in that direction,” Pallavi says.
Edited by Megha Reddy