A dog is our best friend, always by our side taking care of us. Now we can take care of them in a way that could extend their lives by up to two years. Czech start-up Actijoy offers the technology and equipment needed to track a dog’s wide range of behavioral patterns in order to provide the owner and veterinarians with real-time data tracking that is able to eventually prevent diseases.
Actijoy can monitor activity, nutrition and changes in a dog’s behavior in one go by interconnecting three devices – the Health & Activity Tracker, WiFi Food & Water Bowls and the Actijoy app. The Actijoy system can detect dangerous anomalies including symptoms associated with diabetes and kidney disease. Both of which are easily treatable when caught in time.
Innovation Origins talked with Jana Rosenfelder, dog lover, COO, and co-founder of Actijoy.
How was Actijoy born?
Actijoy started 3 years ago when Robert Hasek, founder and CEO of Actijoy, began running outdoors. He invited his furry best friend Darwin to join him. Although he assumed that Darwin was a physically fit dog thanks to his regular walks and love of chasing tennis balls in the huge park, he actually struggled with this new activity. Robert was surprised by this revelation, and subsequently a veterinarian confirmed that Darwin was not as active as he should be in his daily life. As concerned pet owners, Robert and I wanted to measure just how active he was and we sought a tool that would help with Darwin’s fitness journey. However, none of the available dog trackers on the market fulfilled our needs. That’s how the idea for Actijoy was born.
What are the benefits of ActiJoy?
Well, people often find out too late that there is something wrong with their dogs. Did you know that neglected symptoms are the most common cause of premature death in dogs? Actijoy can alert dog owners to a change in their dog’s behavior that they may not even able to notice. Such as how their dog is sleeping or how many times they wake up during the night. Unusual sleep patterns may be a sign of pain or physical/psychological problems. The other thing is excessive thirst – can you tell when your dog is drinking too much water? This can be a sign of diabetes, kidney problems or Lyme disease, all of which can be managed when caught early. If they are not, consequences can be irreversible.
Do you think that many start-ups are tackling this same issue?
We started developing Actijoy because we saw that dog healthcare is not comprehensive. There are dog wearables and smart bowls on the market. Yet there are no all-in-one solutions that work together with all of the data. If we want to get in shape and focus on our health, we have to monitor our activity, rest and food & water intake, and that goes for dogs as well.
What is something that a dog owner could discover about their dog using Actijoy?
Something interesting – thanks to the Actijoy notifications, every Actijoy dog owner can now know how active their dog was during the day. As a matter of fact, people rarely get up off the couch and they have no-one else to blame but themselves. Nevertheless, they do not want to let their dogs suffer from their lack of physical activity. In the end, the health of their dogs is in their hands. Knowing what the minimum daily activity goal is for their dogs motivates dog-owners to go out with their dogs for at least a little walk so that they both reach their daily activity goal together. Therefore it’s a win-win.
Is it suitable for all breeds?
Yes, it is suitable for all breeds and any dog weighing 6 1/2 lbs/3 kgs or more.
Do you plan to expand this to other members of the animal kingdom?
We originally intended to use the Actijoy solution for cats as well. However, during our development we found out that if we want to offer a solution that works, we’d have to use completely different algorithms for cats. As the important indicators for cats are slightly different than for dogs. That is why we decided to focus on dogs first.
Actijoy is not a universal solution for all animals. We understand dogs and thanks to our devices dog parents are better able to understand their dogs as well.
What has been the biggest obstacle that you have had to overcome during the whole Actijoy process?
Well, hardware is hard, which is not exactly a cliché. The development phase was difficult and sometimes we reached an impasse. The hardest part was to accept that a lot of work had to be thrown away and we had to start from scratch all over again.
A different matter is, of course, finance. Covering production costs with our own resources is generally unrealistic. We started looking for an investor and we managed to find an investor a year after the starting up. Until then, we bootstrapped the project from our resources and with the help of two Angels from F&F (Family and Friends). We were able to accelerate the production process thanks to this investment.
At present we are facing new challenges at the stage of market entry as the sales phase has given us completely different obstacles to deal with. So, each phase has its own biggest obstacle. There is always a challenge and that’s why we are enjoying the work more and more.
Was there a moment when you thought of giving up?
Probably that moment was at a time when we had almost no leeway beneath our feet and no investor on the horizon. It was frustrating knowing that we were working on something great but we may not be able to finish it.
There was one Sunday when we agreed with our co-founders that it was over because we did not have any money. We suddenly got a call from an investor the next day.
What has been the most gratifying moment?
The investment came from Brit, the second largest international pet food producer company in Europe, which we considered a huge success for Actijoy! It was not just an investment, but also smart money, which is always essential for the project’s success.
What can we expect from your company in the future?
We are working on Actijoy as a product both for home use and as a product that can be used by veterinarians to help in treatment or the diagnosis of health problems. Already we are testing our devices at several clinics.
At the same time, we would like to introduce another new product from the Actijoy ecosystem every year. We are already developing new products and have many more in mind. Dog owners have a lot to look forward to!
What is your ultimate goal?
We believe that moving our products across households into the arena of veterinarian equipment is the right thing. Imagine that it is not a dog owner who calls a veterinarian if there is something wrong with their dog, but a vet who calls them when there are specific changes in the dog’s behavior and should come for a checkup. All that thanks to data sharing. And that’s the kind of pet care we want to achieve in the next five years.
We are still open to new collaborations with vets, so if someone is reading this and likes what we are doing, please do not hesitate to contact us.
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