A new venture fund for pet tech is being subsidized by Mars, the candy maker. Investing $100 million into this new initiative, aptly named the ‘Companion Fund’ is directed by Whistle, a GPS-based location firm [acquired recently by Mars in 2016] for $117 million.
A Petcare "Go-to" Partner
Whistle CEO and co-founder Ben Jacobs notes that in addition to pet tech, this new arm of Mars will support tech development, marketing, manufacturing, distribution and science. "We want to be the go-to partner for any promising new venture in petcare, whether that's health, nutrition or anything else."
Jacobs added, "Pets are part of your family now. They're on your bed, not just in the yard. So we're interested in companies that remove pain points for pet owners, and help them keep their pets healthy. We're asking: how do you remove barriers for dog walking, dog sitting and veterinary care? How do you diagnose a patient that has no voice, and find health issues before your pet experiences pain?"
Pet Tech & Care Competition
The pet tech and care space is not only being heralded by Mars. There is significant competition in these verticals, where blockbuster deals have been consummated over the course of the last few years. This includes an $8 billion acquisition of natural pet food makers Blue Buffalo by General Mills, and a $300 million SoftBank Vision Fund investment in Wag -- an Uber-esque app that lets owners book dog walkers and get detailed reports on their journeys.
Estimated at $70 billion, Greg Tarriff, Founder and CEO of Fetch my Pet elucidates why techie entrepreneurs are jumping on board.
“This growth is driven in part by millennial consumers: about 75% in their 30s own a dog and about 50% own a cat—and 44% see their pets as “starter children.” In other words, millennials not only own more pets than any other generation, but offer a better standard of care and are changing the pet business landscape with their buying habits. Millennials think of pets as family,” notes Tarriff.
Marketed as “digital daycare for pets,” technology firms, such as PetChatz lets pet owners interact with their pets remotely. The need for this type of technology is driven in part by our view of pets. We no longer see pets as owned objects, but instead as integral members of our family.
Similar to our children, pet parents are seeking higher quality products and services, that have long-term benefits.
See more on this topic as it pertains to our pet birds in my recent blog, “New Tech & Products For Our Pet Birds.”
Primary Source: CNBC Report on Pet Tech & Products