This Dog Food Startup’s ‘Smart Scoop’ Promises You’ll Never Run Out of Kibble
One of the most important things a pet owner has to keep track of is what his or her’s four-legged best friend is eating—and how much. But it’s all too easy to get to the bottom of a 24-pound bag of kibble without realizing it and then have to run out to a bodega to grab the first bag of dog food one can find to keep the pooch of the house fed and happy.
Among the burgeoning group of pet food-minded startups popping up—from gourmet delivery services like Ollie’s and The Farmer’s Dog to automated feeders from Petnet—YaDoggie is mixing together those elements while promising a personalized experience for each customer through predictive shipping and the debut of its new “smart scoop.”
Touting itself as “No Worries Dog Food,” YaDoggie is a subscription dog food service startup taking on the big leagues of the pet food industry—a behemoth that churned just under $25 billion last year and is expected to be valued at more than $30 billion by 2022.
Based in Santa Cruz, Calif., YaDoggie was founded in January 2016 by Sol Lipman, a self-described serial entrepreneur who has sold companies to both Yahoo and AOL. Lipman has maintained strong ties after those deals with his buyers. Among YaDoggie’s backers is Tim Armstrong, CEO of the entity now known as Oath—the combination of AOL and Yahoo’s assets acquired by Verizon.
Nodding toward upstarts like Warby Parker and Dollar Shave Club that have upended retail markets as we knew them for years, Lipman says we haven’t seen that same move in the dog food industry—at least not yet.
“The only innovations we’ve seen in the dog food industry are high end services that cater to 1% of dog owners,” Lipman says. “YaDoggie is building something for the other 99%, but still with a focus on a bespoke experience and a personal relationship with our customers (the dogs, not the people).”
For YaDoggie, the first step consists of its predictive shipping algorithms, accumulating data about a dog—breed, size, weight, and activity levels—and tailoring meal plans based on keeping a dog well fed, but not overfed. With those results taken into account, YaDoggie says it will ship and deliver a new bag of dog food just before the previous bag runs out. (But owners can delay orders for whatever reason, such as a vacation.)
But YaDoggie now has another way to keep track of how much kibble is going into the bowl with the debut of its smart scoop, a Bluetooth Low Energy device that connects with a smartphone and sends out notifications when the dog has been fed. The scoop also alerts the human with color-coded signals—green means the dog needs to be fed and red signifies the dog has already been fed recently—to prevent overfeeding.
“No more texting to find out who fed last, and no more overfeeding because no one can remember,” Lipman says.
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YaDoggie currently produces three different kinds of grain-free kibble: buffalo and duck, lamb and sweet potato, and turkey and pea, which is intended for dogs with sensitive tummies. Lipman tells Fortune more recipes will be developed and released in the future.
An exact release date for the smart scoop hasn’t been announced yet, but it is scheduled to ship this November with a price tag of $49. But early birds can get it for free if they sign up for a YaDoggie subscription starting on September 20 through the to-be-announced release date. Subscription rates vary based on the dog’s size and how much it is prescribed to eat, but YaDoggie says the average 40-pound bag costs approximately $50 per month.