The latest winner of flash funding from Arrow is Waggit, who just received an award of $50K USD as part of the Arrow Certification Program. Become part of the Arrow Certification Program to qualify for flash funding, and read on to learn about Waggit’s entrepreneurial journey to flash funding.
Sometimes, life’s hardest moments inspire our best ideas. For Susan Sierota, CEO and Co-Founder of Waggit, that’s exactly what happened. After suffering severe back issues, Sierota found herself needing to lean on friends — literally. “I went through a time in my life when I had multiple back surgeries — I had six total — and could only walk when holding the arms of friends so I wouldn’t fall if my legs gave out, she recalled.
Little did she know her best four-legged friend was taking notes. “My dog Mulligan was with me at all times, watching this, and I didn’t even think about it until a few days before surgery number three when I was at the lowest point in my life purely from nerve pain,” said Sierota. “I took him out to go to the bathroom and fell so hard and I just lost it. He came over and helped me up. He jumped up on his back paws and put his front ones on me and started hopping with me. Of course it didn’t work because his weight was on me instead of the other way around.”
Mulligan’s actions that day changed everything, including Sierota’s attitude. “I went from that lowest moment to laughing out loud and feeling so loved,” she said. “And I decided at that moment that we’d just figure it out, no matter what we need.”
After losing Mulligan to kidney disease, Sierota knew that there needed to be a way for dog owners to better understand the health and wellbeing of their furry family members. “We’re losing our babies because they’re suffering and we don’t know it because they intentionally hide pain,” she explained.
After talking with friend and co-founder Carrie Dolan, who lost her dog way too soon to cancer, the idea for Waggit was born.
A smart collar for dogs, Waggit makes it easier for pet parents to understand how their furry family members are feeling and take a proactive approach to managing their health. Tracking vitals, activity, location and more, the device is designed to create peace of mind, help prolong lives and save on costly vet bills.
“Waggit is a health and well-being monitor that can improve and extend the lives of our fur babies,” explained Sierota.
Prototyping the future of pet health
In order to make a product that dog parents would love, Sierota and the Waggit team spent time talking to pet owners at dogs parks in various cities. Using paper prototyping, the team rendered pictures of the Waggit app and asked people to give their thoughts and opinions.
“It was a way to try and understand the actual consumers that were going to be most interested in Waggit so we could start out targeting, as well as understand what features were going to be most important,” explained Sierota.
Then, they sat down with a veterinarian to determine the type of information they would need to monitor to make a difference. The result was Waggit, a smart device designed specifically to improve and extend the lives of canines everywhere.
In combination with the Waggit app, the smart collar alerts pet parents when there is any change in key vitality indicators, such as body temperature and resting respiration rate. Waggit also intuitively learns a dog’s favorite positions, sleeping habits and activity level to accurately monitor his or her wellbeing.
Building a community with crowdfunding
Looking to build their brand community with pet lovers that also understood the startup process, the Waggit team turned to crowdfunding. “Our goal was truly about building a community of really awesome backers that understand the beta process and manufacturing, as well as to get final decisions on marketing things,” said Sierota. “[We wanted] a platform where people could vote with their real dollars versus just giving their opinion.”
The Waggit team was genuinely surprised by the outpouring of support they received from backers. According to Sierota, not a single person became angry when they experienced an unexpected delay in manufacturing. Instead, the community showed an uncanny understanding for the importance of getting the product made with the right materials. “I am really surprised at what a wonderful community we have and how engaged and inspired they are — I have never seen anything like it,” exclaimed Sierota.
Waggit continues to expand their community via Indiegogo’s InDemand platform, attracting more backers as they bridge the gap between product development and shipping.
Arrow: The answer to supply chain challenges
As a part of the Arrow Certification Program, Waggit was able to work alongside Arrow experts to navigate unforeseen challenges during the manufacturing process. “I’m a huge, huge fan of Arrow and I’m grateful every day that we ended up partnering with them,” said Sierota. “We have had a few challenges that we jointly tackled with Arrow and Waggit — I don’t think we’d be shipping on the timeline we are without Arrow.”
When faced with a contract manufacturer that couldn’t deliver, Arrow stepped up to help Waggit avoid another delay. Utilizing their network to find a supplier that not only had the right materials on hand, but was also capable of taking over the job on Waggit’s tight timeline. According to Sierota, Arrow’s willingness to take their launch and timing seriously was fantastic.
Likewise, Arrow has helped Waggit save money via single supplier sourcing. “We’re getting lower costs and we’re actually increasing our capability, which has had a tremendous impact on our cash flow,” said Sierota.
Flash funding: $50,000
As the latest Arrow flash funding winner, the Waggit team now has an extra $50,000 to expand their inventory. “It’s so awesome when people recognize that you’re trying to do something incredible and want to be a part of the journey and do that with money,” said Sierota.
And Sierota plans to do more incredible things for the future of pet health. Using the Waggit and app as an entry point, the team plans to integrate additional products — such as collars for cats and a nutrient analysis app for pet food — to increase value and data collecting capabilities.
Who will be the next recipient of flash funding from Arrow? Keep checking back to find out which Indiegogo campaigner is the next winner. Join the Arrow Certification Program to access flash funding opportunities, and see how Arrow can help you take your idea to the next level.