We have been excited about the opportunity for new brand creation in the pet market for the last decade. Our first investment in the space was a seed check into BARK in 2012 when the overall spend on pets in the US was $53B. Now, people in the US spend over $72B on their pets and BARK has grown to be a very valuable company. Next, we made a seed investment in Wag, a dog walking company, which has also gained tremendous momentum and raised hundreds of millions of dollars. Our continued excitement about the market and our confidence in the team and product at Fi led us to lead their last round of financing.
Fi is the maker of the longest-lasting smart dog collar on the market—no other collar comes close to matching Fi’s product performance. Through innovations in hardware (Fi’s collar uses the latest LTE-M technology) and firmware, Fi is able to achieve an unprecedented 3-month battery life for its collar. Most other competitive products have battery life measured in hours or days. The Fi collar links to a mobile app on a user’s phone, which allows users to monitor their dog’s activity and GPS location, and owners can set up a geofenced area so that the application alerts them if their dog escapes with real-time tracking of the dog’s location. Innovations on the software side allow the product to understand when a dog is in the car, on the road with a dog walker, or running around a park, without tripping the geofence.
The product has only been in market for a limited time but has already helped several worried dog owners find their lost dogs. Fi’s capability gives people the peace of mind that they will quickly be able to find their dog if it wanders.
Dogs are an increasingly important part of the modern family. Today, an estimated 68% of all US households own at least one pet, and 66% of those households treat the pet as a part of their family. Look no further than the fact that over a quarter of dog owners celebrate their dog’s birthday and that high-quality dog food is a booming business. In addition to this humanization of pets at home and in the media, millennials are further delaying having children, opting instead for getting pets. We believe these factors will continue to drive up pet spending to $75B next year, and Fi will be able to position itself as the premium tech product in this growing space.
We've been fortunate to work with BARK, where we have seen how consumers are thrilled to subscribe to a service that delivers products that their pets love. You only have to watch one video of a group of dogs tearing apart a Barkbox to understand why those consumers come back, again and again, each month! Some of these videos include pet influencers who command significant revenues through their social media following—all for showcasing pet products. It’s also been our pleasure to witness BARK build a broader pet ecosystem over the last few years beyond the core Barkbox product.
The Fi team (including Thor and other office dogs) is well positioned to capitalize on these trends. The strong, technical team has experience in both hardware and software development at high growth startups and large companies. The team is led by two amazing founders, who we are confident will be able to build a generational company.
The CEO, Jonathan Bensamoun, worked on product teams at several early stage companies, including ShopKeep and Handy. He also founded a location-based application that was acquired by Square, where he subsequently worked as a product manager.
The CTO, Loren Kirkby, has deep domain expertise in consumer hardware. He was the first employee at Dropcam, and he grew with the company as the Chief Architect, helping steer it to a $500M+ acquisition by Nest.
The team, the product, and the recent market trends made this an easy investment decision for us. We are thrilled to work alongside the amazing Fi team and our co-investors, Lerer Hippeau, and Freestyle Capital, to make Fi’s vision a reality.