Tails wag in US for Wellington firm Heyrex's doggy data service
Innovative Wellington pet products company Heyrex is off the leash, expanding rapidly on the back of global success.
Heyrex's wireless monitoring devices have become a hit with vets which are using them to track and record dogs' behaviour after surgery, for weight loss programmes, and to manage dogs with medical issues that need regular vet supervision.
Heyrex chief executive Nathan Lawrence said its collar took many years of R&D.
Now that human wearable technology, such as Fitbits, had become mainstream, it was a more well-understood market space, he said.
"One year ago the market was saying 'this [technology] is interesting', and now it's changed to, 'I'm interested'".
Heyrex collars are sold in the United States, France, Brazil, Australia, Britain, Canada and the Czech Republic, and have been endorsed by academics.
"This gives the product credibility. It's not a gadget; it's a serious product."
"In America, about 53 per cent of dogs are overweight or obese, so there are a lot of dogs we can help through offering our products to veterinarians around the world," Lawrence said.
About 20 sales people had been employed to scale up Heyrex business in the US where there are 13,000 veterinary hospitals.
An R&D partnership had also been established in the US.
The tech start-up also created the self-replenishing pet drinking bowl Torus, which is designed in Karori and manufactured in Petone.
The bowl, which Lawrence says has also been a huge success in the US, is sold in 12 countries. It stores fresh water inside its walls to ensure topped-up water is protected from dust and contaminants.
Heyrex plans to add value to the product, which retails for $59.95, by patenting a range of animal health supplements which can be dispensed by the bowl.
Lawrence said the business was at an exciting stage of development.
"It's been a hard road but we are getting there; we are gaining traction and building our revenue – most of which is coming from overseas, which is encouraging."
The pet care company, which employs six staff, is putting its paws out to investors who want to be part of the multibillion dollar petcare industry.
So far 88 investors on equity crowdfunding platform Snowball Effect have contributed just over $1 million.
"We are starting to get growing pains and need to build up a capital resource to accelerate the growth we are experiencing."
A focus on the global veterinarian market would solidify Heyrex's position as an innovative market leader around the world, Lawrence said.
"I'm so proud we've been able to do it all this from the New Zealand home base."
HOW IT WORKS
Using wireless technology, Heyrex transmits data from a dog monitor to "the cloud", sending automatic notifications when the animal's behaviour improves or indicates a health problem. This allowing vets to extend their care beyond the hospital door.
It gives vets the ability to manage post-operative recovery, monitor a dog's response to treatment, identify early signs of pruritus and mobility issues, track sleep disturbance and behavioural issues, set exercise plans and weight loss goals and improve owners' compliance with their pet's care requirements.