Security professional David Bateman talks using GPS technology and systems to create a tracking device to keep tabs on his pet dog Frank.
What does your business do?
PetLocate is a pet tracking company which began as an idea two years ago and started six months ago. It was created so people can keep an eye on their pets while they are not around. We designed a small waterproof device which has a silicon band on it that can be attached to a pet's collar. The device communicates to a Google Maps-style apps that gives real-time location updates. It was a company I designed for me to set up and my partner to run.
What was the motivation for starting it?
We bought a dog, it was my first, and he kept running out of the gate when he was a puppy.
He's an expensive dog, and I have a background in security and GPS, and while he was lost I kept Googling GPS trackers for pets but I couldn't find anything in New Zealand. I started talking about a pet tracking collar to people and the idea took off.
Everyone liked it and it seemed logical so we did some background checks, got a lot of trackers in from overseas and found a company that we could work with and designed the trackers through.
The product is the smallest tracker we could find, we got an app, paired them up, started testing the tracker for six months and then put it to market. The product is $115 and it takes away the uncertain feeling pet owners have.
How does the technology work?
It is a GPS device and has a sim card in it so it's essentially like having a miniature cellphone on your pet; it just needs internet and cellphone coverage. The device sends a signal every few minutes to an app on your phone and on the app you see a map of roads. Your pet is one beacon and your phone is the other beacon so if you the push arrow on the map it gives you the fastest route to wherever your pet is. The range of the tracker is wherever there is a cellphone coverage, it's not limited to Bluetooth. Your dog could be in Stewart Island and you in Auckland and you could push go and it'll give you the one day trip to get your dog.
Another feature is the geo fence. You can see a little fence on the app around your house so if your dog walks outside of that it sends a notification to your phone.
Is this your first business?
I run a security company but I foresee Petlocate overtaking that and becoming my full-time gig. I work on Petlocate for about six hours a night. I deal with GPS-communications often and that's how I knew there was a market for PetLocate.
What's your current focus?
We're concentrating on selling the product through our website, Facebook and Instagram, and keeping a tab on the company. Once we understand what our brand is or where we want it to be then we can start pushing it out to other stockers and retailers. Long term, we're looking at a company called CarLocate; that uses the same GPS technology and basis as Petlocate, but you put it into your car. The technology is out there for that, it's called asset tracking, but that is designed for commercial use and it hasn't been tailored for individual use.
How has the product been received?
It's been really well received. It seems like everyone who owns a pet has expressed interest. We have Facebook and Instagram, that's where we market, and we're really happy with the feedback. In the first four weeks of launching we had about 200 orders. We're now aligning ourselves with other New Zealand pet companies and hoping to promote the at events like The Big Dog Walk.
How much competition are you up against?
There's one Australian company that has come to market since we launched but there's nothing New Zealand-owned that solely concentrates on one tracker. For us, we're concentrated on one tracker and really focused on keeping our product small, something that doesn't stand out on a pet. Our focus is to become a brand that everyone knows, a brand that is simple and people can trust.
Where are PetLocate trackers manufactured?
We get the devices from Hong Kong, it would be too expensive to make them here. The big thing about our company is having a price point where people aren't going to say it's expensive. We wanted to keep it around $100 mark and the only way to do that is to get it from overseas. We have a really good relationship with the company we work with but it took a while to find a supplier who understood the New Zealand market.
What advice do you give to others thinking about starting their own business?
Starting your own business is easier than you think as everything is cloud-based. All the software you need is at the tip of your fingertips. There's a notion that starting a company is really hard but people don't realise technology has changed that.