Interview with Robert Hašek of the unique, pet-focused Czech start-up Six Guys Labs

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Six Guys Labs is a very new and promising start-up that will soon celebrate its first year in existence, though we definitely cannot call it a “newby”. In February, the company launched a Kickstarter campaign by means of which it raised a respectable USD 40,000 and it was named one of the top 15 European start-ups at the 2017 EU-Startups conference in Berlin.

And why have we conducted an interview with the company’s CEO and co-founder? Representatives of the company are among the Czech delegates who took part in Czech Start-Up Week in New York in May, whom we asked about their views and plans for the future.

Q1:  Robert, can you tell us more about your three products focused on household pets? And what are you working on right now?

We are working on our product called actijoy, which currently includes three interconnected products. This involves a set of four smart wi-fi bowls that map your pet’s food and water intake and a smart collar (health and activity tracker). Simply put, it’s Fitbit for dogs, which monitors dogs’ activity. All of the devices are connected to an application that works with and evaluates data and helps owners to provide effective care for their dogs. Part of the application comprises a health journal that the owner can share with the veterinarian in the event of any health problems. The health journal contains all data on vaccinations, health problems and treatments and drugs, as well as the dog’s daily nutrition and activity. It’s kind of a set of service records for dogs.

Q2: Thanks to the CzechDemo programme, you had your own stand at TechCrunch Disrupt in New York. Looking back, how do you see your participation in this programme?

Getting to TechCrunch in New York was understandably amazing for us, both for marketing or for strategic reasons. Not every start-up has sufficient capital to finance attendance of such a costly event from their own funds. At TechCrunch, we met not only with potential end-customers, but primarily partner projects with which we can combine our efforts in the future. But it would be wrong to define the CzechDemo programme only as participation in TechCrunch. Within the project, we also took part in a hyper-acceleration programme with Venture Out, which we see as an open door to the American target market. In connection with the programme, we had the opportunity to approach particular investors and we attended workshops with a lot of mentors and experts on individual activities that pertain to the American market, including tax and legal matters and business customs. We improved our presentation skills, which we showed off to a panel of investors and event attendees during the CzechTech pitch night. Overall, participation in the programme brought us a lot of new contacts and pushed us a bit closer toward our goal.

Q3: The focus of your start-up is quite specific. Not everyone has a pet at home, so the size of your potential customer base is quite limited. Do you see it as such? 

As I mentioned earlier, we our focusing primarily on the American market with our product. In figures, that’s 80 million dogs. Furthermore, 54% of them are overweight or obese. So, the potential customer base is relatively broad, though of course not everyone has a household pet and that number could be bigger. Global development of the market confirms year by year that, after children, household pets and pet supplier comprise the second most progressively growing commodity of recent years.

Q4: How expensive are your products?

If we’re talking about the Buddy pack, which is the whole system composed of two bowls and one tracker, the retail price is roughly USD 250. Our devices are not only smart, but also multidog friendly, which means that owners can arrange the devices according to their preferences. If dogs in a single household are able to share bowls, it is possible to buy additional trackers and fewer bowls. Each individual device costs USD 89. In our home, for example, the dogs share a water bowl, which can distinguish which dog is using it at the given time and assign the data to the right account. Each dog has a separate food bowl and tracker.

Thank you very much for your time. We wish you luck and as many satisfied pets as possible ;-).