Media Coverage

Pet tech start-up Scollar chooses KC as headquarters, ponders partnerships and expansion


Apr 23, 2019 - Animal Pharm
By Daniel Willis

Founded in 2015, US-based pet technology start-up Scollar markets a cloud-enabled smart collar that is designed to address every aspect of animal care in an "all-in-one" solution for pets. Previously based in Silicon Valley, it will now be moving its headquarters to Kansas City. Animal Pharm analyst Daniel Willis spoke to Scollar co-founder and chief executive Lisa Tamayo to find out more.

Scollar's decision to relocate will help the company launch its range of products. The firm also intends to scale its administrative, customer success, sales and marketing teams in Kansas City Animal Health Corridor.

"There's over 400 companies here that are in animal health," Lisa Tamayo, founder and chief executive of Scollar, told Animal Pharm. "60% of the global animal health market is here and there are four veterinary schools within a couple of hours of each other."

According to Ms Tamayo, Scollar selected Kansas City as its new home after presenting at the Kansas City Animal Health Investment Forum in 2018.

She explained: "In the San Francisco Bay Area, it's really hard for us to compete with tech talent. We're competing with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Apple. It's very, very expensive to attract talent and the cost of living is a lot higher. In Kansas City, we can bring and grow the talent here and really help Kansas City become the tech hub that it's really seeking to be.

"Everything that we are is collaboration and Kansas City is a really collaborative community, so we can't wait to get started here."

Product offering

According to Ms Tamayo, the creation of the Scollar smart collar technology was driven from a desire to establish a collar that tackles a range of pet issues together, rather than separately.

She told Animal Pharm: "The idea for Scollar came from a very practical set of problems that we were having. We thought: 'Wouldn't it be great if there was one collar did everything?' Rather than having all of this separate technology that you have to manage – just one system that could handle all of it.".

Scollar currently sells the Scollar Trek for medium and large dogs and the Scollar Mini for cats and toy dog breeds. It also markets a Wi-Fi base station for use with its Scollar app and technology, as well as expansion modules to help expand smart collar functionality through integrating it with the smart collar. This can include with a power port, an electric and vibration motivator for invisible fences, electric and vibration monitor for anti-bark and a vibration module and beacon for perimeter barriers.

Scollar's all-in-one open platform collar monitors animals' vital signs, movement patterns, medication protocols and locations, aims to improve fertility efficiency and timing, increase owner/provider communication and analyze data that is collected.

Ms Tamayo continued: "In the last four years since we have been building Scollar, we've seen a host of technology introduced to the marketplace. What we're fascinated by is how our competitors have all kind of done the same thing – they've all created limited function or single function technology. They've all created systems that are closed and siloed.

"This means that if you're looking for data that you can aggregate to get a bigger picture – a medical situation for a veterinarian for example or a millennial trying to manage multiple issues for an animal – they have to get separate technologies, which is expensive. So, the big differentiator is that we are an open platform. We have a cloud-service that's got RESTful API which has capability for artificial intelligence and machine learning, and we've got the Scollar app.

"Prior to setting up Scollar, we looked at the market for what was available and at that time there was hardly anything for cats or small animals. We said that if we can create a smart collar that does what we want it to do, that's two ounces and fits around the neck of a chihuahua or a cat, then we can do anything." 

Cross-species partnerships and expansions

The animal technology market is currently undergoing a boom of innovation. FitBark, a pet tech firm also based in Kansas City, has launched a smart collar of its own – FitBark and FitBark 2. This system is designed to help pet owners monitor and gain insight into their dog's quality of sleep, behavior, calorie expenditure and overall health.

Regarding FitBark, Scollar has been eyeing up the firm's collaboration potential. Ms Tamayo said: "We've been talking to Davide Rossi (FitBark co-founder) about partnering. One of the things which Scollar can do that is almost impossible for our competitors to do is partner. For us, these partnerships are our way to expand the functionality of the collar and the whole Scollar system."

Currently, Scollar's smart collar is exclusively sold for companion animals. However, according to Ms Tamayo, an expansion into the production animal market is already in the works. "Our goal with these other players in the companion and production animal markets is integration," she explained.

"After visiting rancher friends, they said to us many times before we took them seriously that they really need this technology for our herds. Finally, they brought us out to their ranch and showed us and all the different use cases that they articulated were things that we could easily do with our technology. Through this, we realized we had created something much larger than just one collar for every dog and cat. 

"So, regarding our products we are starting at a smaller size and then going up. Therefore, for a production animal we'll just have the circuitry and solar on the back of the device. We created a collar which, again, the core circuitry will be the same from cats to cattle because we created such a robust sensor-filled set of boards that we could work with.

"We're doing a lot of research right now on the production animal side, interviewing dairy farmers and protein producers. We do have one of our first partners who develop calving technologies, as apparently there are only two technologies on the market which do that, and they're both siloed and expensive. So, we told them to work on their algorithms and we'll just fully integrate it into Scollar."

While currently focused on its domestic North American market, Ms Tamayo stated Scollar will soon be looking to establish itself in foreign markets – but not on its own.

She said: "Our goal is to get the Scollar Mini and Trek products into the market in the US and Canada first, then quickly migrate into Europe, Asia and Latin America. The way we plan to do that is through partnerships. If we were to start in the US then try to certify Scollar in the UK and the EU, we'd have to go through a really robust process. If we work with a UK partner such as a veterinary wellness program, it makes it easier for us. We are raising funds right now so that we can quickly get into the global market."

In regard to launching in global markets such as in China, Ms Tamayo believes it may be a longer process.

She said: "When we started doing the market research for Scollar and we looked at global markets for pet ownership, China was number eight – and now its number two. It's growing really quickly as the middle class grows.

"We've had a couple of people reach out for us from the Asian market – some from the United Arab Emirates. It really depends on how quickly we enter those markets and also what is it going to take for us to get through the certification process of these global markets."

Reprinted with permission of Animal Pharm News

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