Actijoy fitness collar with smart dog bowl finds success at home and abroad
Robert Hašek and Jana Rosenfelderová invented the Actijoy system of smart devices for dogs. With CzechInvest, they have attended global trade fairs, such as CES Las Vegas and TechCrunch Disrupt in New York and San Francisco. Based on feedback from mentors and potential customers, they adjusted their business plan and, in 2017, their startup received an investment of CZK 25 million from VAFO Praha.
Based on their own experience, the startup’s founders determined that there was no device on the market that could monitor dogs’ physical activity, quality of sleep and the amount of fluids and food ingested all at the same time. Therefore, they invented the Actijoy system of smart devices for dogs, which comprises a special tracking collar, smart bowls and an application for evaluating the acquired data.
With the prototype of the product, they first travelled to the city of dog lovers, San Francisco, where they talked to more than 750 potential customers at various parks, thus verifying that there would be interest in their product. In addition to that, they also found out which properties the device should have. “We went to America on our own with two small children. It was a challenging time,” says Jana Rosenfelderová, co-founder of the startup. “After some time, however, I was grateful for that phase. We found that there is nothing similar on the US market and that customers would welcome such a product. That was a crucial step for me to start believing in Actijoy.”
Veterinarians can easily view all data
The device works on a similar principle as fitness trackers and smart watches. It is composed of three interconnected parts. The smart collar monitors the dog’s activity and rest during the day and at night. Smart bowls record how much the pet eats and drinks. In addition to that, the bowls automatically monitor the correct food serving sizes. The application then processes, evaluates and displays the data from all of the devices and provides notifications on any possible problems. Another part of the application is a health logbook in which the owner records information on vaccinations and examinations, as well as on changes in behaviour and fluid intake. All or some of the data can also be easily shared with veterinarians, thus aiding the early detection of health problems.
Actijoy and CzechInvest - First steps abroad
After gaining experience in the United States, the company got involved in the CzechDemo programme, thanks to which it attended six global trade fairs over two years – TechCrunch Disrupt in London, San Francisco and New York, Slush in Helsinki and CES in Las Vegas twice – with representatives of CzechInvest. “In addition to a network of contacts, we gradually gained a new perspective on our business. We learned to present ourselves, attract attention and have well-crafted materials. We also got an overview of business practices in the United States,” says co-founder Robert Hašek.
He also explains that the key for them was to reassess the business plan after receiving feedback on their business. “At first, we thought we would mainly target owners of obese dogs. In the end, it turned out that our customers are active people who are interested in having a healthy lifestyle and in the health of their dogs, and they probably also use at least a smart watch,” Hašek adds.
“With CzechInvest, we gained a new perspective on our business.” (Robert Hašek, CEO of Actijoy)
Actijoy reached a turning point in 2017, when the company received an investment of CZK 25 million from entrepreneur Pavel Bouška’s company VAFO Praha. The investment helped to accelerate the development of the final product and the start of production in the Czech Republic. It also brought the company publicity in various media outlets such as Forbes, the New York Post and TechCrunch.
The start-up currently has customers mainly in the United States and Canada. Demand for its product is growing also in the Czech Republic and Scandinavia. Its founders are working on new products and additional functionalities of the application in cooperation with veterinarians. “It’s great to receive positive feedback from specialists. Thanks to our application, people can much more thoroughly keep track of their dogs’ health history,” Hašek explains, adding that in the future, they would like to see Actijoy as an application that is used by specialists and breeders around the world.
CzechInvest plays a key role in the area of comprehensive support for business and investments and is a state contributory organisation subordinate to the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic. CzechInvest also accompany startups on the path to doing business. In 2019, it became the guarantor of the National Startup and Spin-off Environment pillar of the Innovation Strategy of the Czech Republic 2019-2030.
This project is implemented by CzechInvest with funding from the Marketing Program, priority axis 2 – “Development of Business and Competitiveness of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises” of the Operational Program Enterprise and Innovation for Competitiveness 2014-2020.