By Siddharth Darbha*
Advaith, Ajith and I go way back and we’ve always loved dogs. As co-founders, we also share a keen interest in technology and products.
Growing up, Advaith lost his pet dog to whom he was very attached to. With his dog missing, we realised that just like him, there are plenty of dog parents across India who’re in the same boat — if you lose your dog, you’re lucky if you see him or her ever again.
In fact, if you’re a part of pet communities on Facebook, Instagram or any other social media platform, you’ll notice posts on missing dogs going up on a daily basis. Among these, you’ll also find stories of pet dogs afflicted with several health conditions, which could have been prevented.
When we adopted Jambi, our brand mascot, a few years ago we knew that we needed a solid solution to keep our adorable Indie safe and fit. That’s how Wagr came into being.
A happy dog will always give you happy tail wags! With Wagr, your dog will always be fit, healthy and happy! That was our idea behind Wagr.
Wagr is India’s first GPS & Fitness Tracker for Dogs. It’s the extra pair of eyes every dog parent has always wanted to take care of their pets. Being a full-time dog parent can be hectic, and our survey with over 200 dog moms and dads showed that their primary concerns were their dog’s safety, followed closely by health.
A dog’s safety is always at risk, as there are plenty of ways he or she can get lost — an open door or window, an urge to find a mate, slipping out of the leash during walks, getting startled by sounds etc. When it comes to health, a lot of dog owners tend to miscalculate the amount of exercise and rest their dogs need, which in turn can lead to long-term health issues.
With these two major problem areas in mind, we designed Wagr for the modern dog parent. It is a tracker and a companion mobile app and provides holistic pet care solutions.
WHAT CAN IT DO?
With Wagr, you know where your dog is at all times. So whether you’re at home or on the other side of the world, you can track your dog’s location anywhere within India. Wagr allows you to create Safe Zones for your home, office, park or anywhere you feel your dog is safe. If your dog ever leaves a Safe Zone, you’ll be instantly notified and then you can track him.
This is quite different from microchipping, which is a passive way of finding lost dogs. Microchipping only works if the lost dog is taken to a facility which has a microchip reader, which is rare. With Wagr you can actively track your dog, just like how you track an Uber cab or a Zomato order, but with a microchip you have to wait for whoever’s found your dog to find you.
Wagr lets you set activity goals for your dog (after you consult your vet). It classifies activity types like sleeping, walking, running and more into low, medium and high activity. You also get to see daily, weekly and monthly health reports of your dog.
We are working on adding several new features here. These include advanced algorithms that detect shaking or shivering, personalised health plans and recommendations, customised exercise routines etc.
With Wagr you can take care of more than one dog. Not just that, it allows other people to take care of your dog or dogs. We are rolling out our Walk Tracking feature. This is especially helpful when other people are taking your dog out for a walk. It gives you a detailed view of route, time and distance of every walk.
Apart from this, Wagr has a four-day battery life and fits on collar sizes of all dog breeds. It’s extremely sturdy, waterproof, dustproof and also comes with a military grade velcro attachment accessory. Lastly, Wagr gets continuous over-the-air firmware updates, meaning it stays updated and improves with time just like a mobile app.
Wagr is headquartered in Bangalore. Our team comprises of 7 talented individuals including Advaith Mohan and Ajith Kochery, the other co-founders. I handle Business, Strategy & Finances while Advaith and Ajith lead UX, Marketing & Data, and Strategy, Engineering & Operations respectively.
We launched our first batch of Wagr in September 2019 and sold out the entire bunch by January 2020 (last Wagr was sold at PetFed Mumbai). We’re ecstatic to share that Wagr is currently being used by 500 dog parents across India! We’ve received so many enquiries and pre-order requests since then and we’re looking forward to launch our new batch in 2020.
This wouldn’t have been possible without the team of veterinarians, designers and engineers who helped us design and build Wagr since our inception. We also partnered with Cessna, Therpup, Precise Pet Clinic, Stepsetgo among others for our launch.
We have crossed many major milestones along our entrepreneurial journey. To start with, we won the Best Product Debut Award at PetFed 2016. We were also a part of prestigious programmes such as Axilor and Revvx hardware accelerator 2016. On top of that, we secured the 2nd-position at Qualcomm Design in India Challenge 2019 out of 300 startups in India, and shifted to Qualcomm’s platform. Recently, we were one of the six startups to represent India at CES 2020, Las Vegas, which is widely considered as the world’s largest tech show for consumer electronics. Up until now, we’ve raised 130k USD (including grants).
LEARNINGS AND CHALLENGES
Wagr comprises a wearable tracker and an app. So one of the biggest challenges we faced was making the transition for the tracker from a prototype to a market-ready product. It was a capital intensive process and Qualcomm was our biggest support system for the same.
Also, there are a lot of Chinese GPS trackers out there, but they are not designed specifically for dogs. They come with a host of problems such as lack of location accuracy, no integration of activity feature, low battery life, bad user experience on app, bulky size among others. After multiple iterations, we have been able to design a compact, light, sturdy high-tech product that works seamlessly with the app.
Lastly, this is the first-of-its-kind product in India and driving product adoption for new and existing customers took a while. But with a growing customer base, people are taking to Wagr easily.
Receiving exposure on a global level at CES 2020 has broadened our horizons. We’re looking forward to launching on Amazon after rolling out new features and improving existing ones, based on feedback from our current customers..
* Siddharth Darbha is the Co-founder of Wagr. He is an alumnus of IIITDM Kancheepuram and has also served as VP of NGO Becoming I Foundation and Consultant at Thorogood Associates. He loves poetry, music and nature.