Earlier this month Ukrainian-American startup Petcube, which has developed an interactive device to keep people connected with their pets, announced that it raised $2.6 million in its second round of funding.
The round was led by Almaz Capital, an international venture fund with Russian origins, with the participation of AVentures Capital, a leading Ukrainian fund, and Y Combinator, where the startup is attending an acceleration program.
Petcube says it will use the funding “to accelerate worldwide distribution, advance its product development, scale globally, and ramp up talent acquisition.”
The startup has appointed Chris Madeiras, a former executive at L’Oréal, PepsiCo, and Nestlé, and Vivian Lee, a previous marketing executive at Electronic Arts, as its Senior Vice President of Sales and Chief Marketing Officer, respectively.
The startup’s first product, the ‘Petcube Camera,’ is a connected pet monitor with real time video and built-in laser pointer. The Petcube app can also be used as a stand-alone media-sharing app for non-camera owners.
Thus Petcube presents itself as the leader in the Connected Pet category, “striving to make lives better for pet parents and their pets.”
Petcube has also launched a ‘Shelters program,’ which allows users to play with adoptable pets in an effort to increase adoption rates.
Petcube presents its device as an original invention: “There are a number of other smart devices for pets, for example people use security cameras or even combine a laptop with skype to watch on their pet,” Petcube founder Yaroslav Azhnyuk said in an exchange with Ukraine Digital News.
“But none of the players with a significant size directly competes with us; our device is the only one to allow you to interact with your pet by talking and playing with it,” Azhnyuk claims.
Among Petcube’s competitors, however, is Petzi, a San Jose, california-based startup which raised more than $5 million in December 2015.
Early commercial success
Following its commercial launch in late 2014, the Petcube Camera is now available in retail stores in the US and Canada. The company also ships to the USA, Canada, a number of countries in the EU, Australia and Japan.
Demand for the Petcube Camera was so high over the holiday season that “the product sold out by Christmas at all retailers including Best Buy, Brookstone and Nordstrom,” according to the startup.
Petcube is planning to expand to offline retail networks in the UK, Japan, Australia and China, “and even more markets soon,” the press service told Ukraine Digital News.
Headquartered in San Francisco with offices in Kyiv, Ukraine and Shenzhen, China, Petcube initially received more than $250,000 from Kickstarter backers, which was “one of the most successful crowdfunding pet products in history.”
The startup also received a $18,000 grant from the Global Technology Foundation (GTF) in Ukraine.
In early 2015 Petcube raised $1.1 million from AVentures Capital and Almaz Capital with participation from SOS Ventures as well as individual investors David Michaels and Nick Bilogorskiy.