"Great and treat" your pet anytime, anywhere.
That's the pitch for a new product called PetChatz, which lets you chat with your pet and give it a treat, even when you're not home.
Lisa Lavin, CEO of Anser Innovation, said the company's flagship PetChatz product will launch this summer. Anyone can pre-order a system for $349 on the PetChatz website. Once the product launches, you will be able to find PetChatz in independent pet stores across the country, she said.
What you get for $349 is an all-inclusive system, with a speaker, webcam, and microphone. The system can dispense treats and scents, with motion detection and treat level alerts.
Here's how it works: you mount the system on the wall over an outlet, so pets won't easily chew a cord, and the product can't be pried off the wall. Lavin calls it a "very pet-safe design" that can also be placed on a kennel door.
"If your pet is in a boarding facility you can check in while you’re in Barbados," she said.
Next up, the company hopes to develop a medication dispensing system for humans. That upcoming product would allow someone who can't necessarily use a phone or computer to interact with, say, a family member or medical professional through what Lavin calls an auto-answer interface.
"I call my pet and they don’t have to do anything and same with my mom. I can even dispense her medication," she said.
In the meantime, the company is working on partnering with a large pharmacy retailer, Lavin said.
"Our whole company is around connecting the disconnected," she said.
Since launching in 2011, Anser Innovation, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, has raised just over $2.5 million from investors, Lavin said. The company name comes from the Latin word for goose. Inspired by the coordinated team effort in which geese fly, the company's focus is on strategic partnerships, she said.
"If we were going to be successful in the marketplace, we knew we would have to be collaborative," she said.
The two other co-founders are Dr. Mark Kroll, a former medical technology executive who has more than 350 patents, and his son Braden Kroll, an investor. Four of Dr. Kroll's patents are assigned to Anser Innovation.
Lavin, who has worked for start-ups and large publicly traded companies, is the only full-time staff of Anser, but she said the company works with more than a dozen partners.
The company also sells treats for $9.99 for both cats and dogs. But that doesn't mean you can't use PetChatz with other animals.
Lavin said she's heard from people who want to use it with their horses and guinea pigs, for example.
"As soon as we launch the product, I’m sure we’ll be seeing lots of different things," she said.