What goes on behind those eyes?
53% of American households own dogs. For most of us, they’re part of the family—and cognitive scientists are discovering that their ability to think and feel is more developed than we ever imagined.
People who live with dogs know that curiosity, fear, excitement, and boredom are not just human emotions. Other animals feel many of the same things that we do, and deserve to lead full and happy lives.
Recent scientific results, and countless examples from everyday life, constantly remind us that we’re only scratching the surface of what our non-human cousins can do.
FluentPet: a catalyst for communication
Together, we can achieve rich communication with animals
CleverPet is a San Diego company founded by cognitive scientists that designs and manufactures the FluentPet System. FluentPet is a system of recordable sound buttons and connecting HexTiles that enables dogs, cats, and other animals to express themselves and be understood by humans.
FluentPet uses cognitive science and academic research to make teaching, learning, and communicating easier:
Neuroscience-aligned hexagonal organization inspired by the brain’s grid cell space representation system
Word groupings make concepts easier to find, remember, and categorize
Design enables progressive, organic soundboard expansion with a growing vocabulary
Customizable design supports a 100+ word vocabulary
We've known for millennia that dogs can recognize the words we say. With FluentPet customizable sound buttons and HexTiles, they can “say” words too!
Step 1: Customers record words on our sound buttons and arrange them on HexTiles.
Step 2: Customers teach by modeling words, pressing buttons when performing meaningful actions (e.g. “outside” when going outside).
Step 3: Animals learn to press buttons on their own, using several buttons together for more complex communication.
Our system structures and accelerates this process by organizing sound buttons into groups. This helps learners (and their teachers!) more easily remember where buttons are, and recognize how concepts cluster together.
Our second innovative product
Profitable from Day One
Our first product, the CleverPet Hub, broke new ground as the world’s first game console for dogs. With our latest brand FluentPet, we’ve achieved:
$3,300,000+ trailing 12-month revenue as of June 2021
$356,000 Q1 2021 income
Revenue-to-marketing ratio > 10:1
$0 ad spend thanks to #1 search engine ranking
Ongoing research collaboration with a Tier 1 university
The FluentPet System and associated research project have been featured in dozens of news outlets—Buzzfeed, WSJ, NYT, The Economist—thanks in part to viral TikTok sensation @whataboutbunny.
With 6.7M+ followers and 143M+ likes, Bunny is an example of success with FluentPet who has ignited the imaginations of dog lovers around the world.
Part of a thriving community
We have sold FluentPet Systems to 40K+ customers, and have a mailing list of 100K+. Our affiliate program is an important part of our strategy, driving customer acquisition through social media.
At How.TheyCanTalk.org, we have developed an online community and scientific research project with 3000+ enrolled participants and growing. Users share tips, tricks, photos, and stories, and every week they document new and surprising button behaviors for analysis by our research team. We are committed to submitting multiple articles for peer review, planning for a minimum of three over the next 12 months.
Our thriving user community is an incredible asset for our brand’s market growth and user retention prospects.
International, profitable, protectable
We sell direct to consumers around the world through our site Fluent.Pet; when we have a sufficient supply of inventory, we will partner with other retailers. Additional global expansion is planned later this year.
Constant negotiation and cost refinement with our manufacturers helps us stay price competitive and profitable. Our 40,000+ orders have an average value of $110+. Existing customers purchase additional HexTiles and buttons to expand their learner’s vocabulary, providing a source of recurring revenue.
We are currently investing in patents and trademarks, and developing advanced hardware and a rich technology ecosystem: building a protectable business that will withstand knock-offs.
$232B in projected pet spending for 2021
Despite the economic uncertainties caused by a worldwide health crisis, people are spending more than ever on their pets. According to an analysis by Global Market Insights, the global pet care market is expected to grow from $216B to $232B in 2021.
This upward trajectory shows no signs of slowing: by 2027, pet care sales could reach upwards of $350B worldwide.
There are 63.4M US households with at least one dog. The Lifetime Customer Value for a dog learning 60 buttons—Bunny has more than 80!—is $500+ over a 12 year average canine lifespan, or more than $41/year.
63.4M households spending $41/year+ would suggest a potential Total Addressable Market of $2.6B per year in the US alone.
Creating our own category: Intelligent Pet
Generic recordable sound buttons are widely available. However, only FluentPet products have been designed with two-way human-to-dog communication in mind.
The FluentPet brand has led in design, research, and time to market, and has brought together the world’s most advanced community of button teachers. With our company advisor backgrounds in artificial intelligence and computational neuroscience, we see a range of unique opportunities to integrate data from a range of different markets. In doing so, we plan to continue our rapid pace of development, releasing a range of new hardware and software products (such as our upcoming mobile app) to add further protectible value.
Touching lives around the world
We are a company that combines best-in-class product development with rigorous, ground-breaking scientific research, to deliver on our mission of communication with other species while sustaining a rapidly growing business.
Our success has the potential to disrupt the existing pet industry. Its impact could extend to:
Everyday dog training, care, and supervision
Work with service dogs and support animals
Viral animal personalities and “influencers”
Entire new industries of physical and digital products
Above all, we envision a world where FluentPet is the interface enabling radically higher bandwidth communication between humans and the animals we live with, profoundly enriching both their lives and our own.
$2M+ funding, backed by angels and micro-VCs
Individuals and firms backing CleverPet and FluentPet include:
Techstars & Qualcomm Robotics Accelerator
Employee #1 at Facebook
A Senior Research Scientist at DeepMind
Founders of Synthego and Celo
Our company was founded by a team of cognitive scientists convinced that the animals we live with have incredible potential.
Founder and CEO Leo Trottier studied cognitive science and A.I. at the University of Toronto, and from there went straight to UC San Diego’s PhD program in cognitive science. He left the program to found CleverPet, and has since led a successful Kickstarter campaign, raised over $2M in investor funding, and launched the CleverPet Hub. He holds numerous patents and is Co-Director of the How.TheyCanTalk Research Initiative.
CleverPet advisors include:
Mike Nuttall (Co-Founder, IDEO)
Dr. Timothy Lillicrap (Senior Research Scientist, DeepMind)
Prof. Terrence Sejnowski (Computational Neurobiology Lab, Salk Institute for Biological Studies)
The CleverPet journey
The idea of making technology for dogs and cats came from a lightbulb moment in 2011: the realization that the 3D depth cameras (like the Microsoft Kinect) found in millions of homes were the first animal-friendly computer interfaces. With some software and a smart food reward device, every home could be turned into an all-day interactive playground for the animals who live there.
To get traction as quickly as possible, we decided to start with a simple touch-based game console that engages dogs using lights and sounds. The result was the CleverPet Hub, which made us the first company in history to remotely train thousands of dogs automatically at home.
This experience taught us an enormous amount about the rapidly developing “Intelligent Pet” product category. When it was demonstrated in the fall of 2019 that anyone could teach a dog to “talk” with recordable sound buttons, we saw enormous potential to apply everything we’d learned.