Investors give startup $3.8 million to develop pet-monitoring device

Petcube Camera, a device developed by a new Ukrainian startup that allows pet owners to monitor and even play with their furry companions remotely, has attracted an additional $2.6 million in investment to help it expand globally.

The startup’s second investment package comes from U.S. seed accelerator Y Combinator, early-stage venture firms Almaz Capital, and Ukraine’s AVentures Capital. The last two already invested $1.2 million in Petcube in May, bringing the company’s total funding to $3.8 million so far.

According to a Petcube Feb. 3 official statement, the millions the company has attracted will go to developing new gadgets and services, and expanding its Kyiv office.

“We’re focused on expanding our distribution footprint and accelerating our new product development,” CEO of Petcube Inc. Yaroslav Azhnyuk said the Feb. 3 statement. “In doing so, we’re striving to make lives better for pet owners and their pets.”

The company also announced it has hired two new skilled employees: Chris Madeiras is now Petcube’s senior vice president for sales, and Vivian Lee is new company’s chief marketing officer. They both have relevant working experience at such companies as L’Oréal, PepsiCo, Nestlé, Cyanogen and Electronic Arts.

The Petcube Camera device connects to the Internet via Wi-Fi, and allows owners to play with their pet remotely with a built-in, app-controlled laser toy. A wide-angle camera on the device transmits high definition real time video to the user’s smartphone. Moreover, the device’s built-in microphone and speaker allows owners to speak soothing words to their pets from afar, and hear their meows and woofs in reply.

“We’re going to launch new features for the Petcube Camera in the near future,” Azhnyuk told the Kyiv Post by email on Feb. 8. “They’ll include the detection of sounds and movement, and an automatic game mode for the laser pointer. We are also preparing Petcube Protect, which will allow users to save a video history for either 10 or 30 days.”

The startup launched a 42-day crowdfunding campaign on U.S. online platform Kickstarter early in 2013, and was backed by 1,758 people who pledged a total of $251,225 to help bring the project to life. The amount raised surpassed the initial goal by two-and-a-half times.

The device costs $199 and can be ordered on Petcube’s own site, or on Amazon, Brookstone, Rozetka, Citrus, Allo and other physical and online stores.

The company is also “committed to helping shelters and rescue groups save animals and find them new loving homes” by collecting donations and installing Petcube devices in pet refuges. According to Petcube’s official website, more than 20 U.S. shelters are currently participating in this social initiative. The initiative allows prospective pet owners to use their smartphones, anytime, anywhere, to watch and play with animals before deciding to adopt them.

“Petcube for Shelters is a program under which we provide shelters for pets equipped with our device,” Azhnyuk told the Kyiv Post. “Petcube mobile app users can play with the animals from the shelters – it’s free. This program is our contribution to homeless animals, and at the same time it’s a good way of attracting new users.”

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