June 2, 2014
The majority of the workforce wakes up, gets ready, and heads off to work for a full day of activity and engagement. The majority of pets, however, are left at home until their owners return. But that’s why Leo Trottier and Dan Knudsen developed CleverPet.
“It occurred to me that homes are only 1 physical device away from being able to actively engage their animals,” says Trottier.
Thus, Trottier and Knudsen set out to develop that physical device: CleverPet is an autonomous pet gaming console that engages your cat or dog using their food or favorite treat. There are three buttons that light up, and when the animal presses a button it releases a small bit of food.
The point of the device, according to Trottier, is to walk the fine line between too easy and too hard – it has to be a challenge. It's base function mimics the classic game Simon, and as your pet starts to get the hang of it you can adjust the settings via Wi-Fi to make it a bit more difficult while also keeping track of how your pet performs.
“We believe that the norms associated with pet care are changing and we think that it may no longer be acceptable for people to just leave dogs and cats alone in apartments or homes,” says Trottier. “We also think that by positioning ourselves in the forefront of this change in how people perceive these animals that we’ll be in a good place to both be a major hub for automated interaction that animals want to be engaged in and a means for people to get more connected with their pets.”
The backers of their recently closed Kickstarter campaign would tend to agree with the aforementioned statement; at the time of close Trottier and Knudsen had surpassed their initial $100,000 goal and raised a total of $180,623. The consoles won’t ship to Kickstarter backers until February, and the CleverPet team is working to ensure the initial release goes off without a hitch.
“We’ve got the ability and know how, and now the desire to put this into homes for dogs,” says Knudsen.
To that end they’ve teamed up with Phil Baker, an entrepreneur who literally wrote the book on how to take ideas and turn them into viable products. He’ll be lending an assist on the manufacturing side of things while the team’s affiliation with Hard Tech Labs here in San Diego will work on the logistical side of the equation.
Outside of HardTechLabs, The University of California San Diego (UCSD) has been a major boon for the entrepreneurial duo. Trottier and Knudsen both graduated UCSD, and their network of people they built there continually reaffirms their decision to stay in San Diego instead of relocating to the Bay Area.
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