Love for dogs & cats helps Korean startups to thrive & innovate

South Korea is a booming market for pet care products, which has resulted in a subsequent rise in startups offering innovative products for pets. As per a report by Euromonitor, in 2019 estimate of just the pet food sales was around $870 million.

With more and more Koreans looking for pooch companions, the sales are likely to double in five years. The rise in single-member households, aging population, and steady income sources means more Koreans own a pet or two now.

Also, the ‘work from home’ scenario because of the Covid-19 outbreak implies that most people are spending more time with their pets and pampering them with the best in the market. Many homegrown Korean companies offer amazing pet care products that use technology and innovation to help pet owners pamper their pooches.

Pet startups offer a variety of services, from treats, healthcare to the funeral

Bacon is a Korean startup that helps pet owners shower their beloved babies with delicious treats with a ‘Bacon Box.’ The subscription-based service ensures that the pet owner receives treat-boxes full of snacks and toys for their pets each month. The bacon Box has 6 items, and the theme changes every month. Pet owners can customize the boxes as well. The company sends goodies as per the dog’s size, breed, weight, age, and dietary information.

With pets, it’s not only about sweet treats, but it is also about maintaining the pet’s fitness. So Korean pet startup Varram has developed a robotic technology to help your pets remain active and happy. Varram’s robots allow owners to monitor pets, children, and even the home. The robotic gadget keeps the pet busy when it is alone at home and stimulates its senses. It is a wonderful interactive robot that checks symptoms like lethargy, non-activity, and even dispenses treats for pets. With Varram robot, pet owners can feel a bit relieved about leaving their pets home alone. Especially after the pandemic, when pet parents will have to start offices, this will be a helpful tool for pets missing the owner’s presence.

Petmate is a wearable health monitor for elderly dogs.
For pet owners, the utmost priority is to get premium care for their pets’ health and well-being. Startups like Thinkwave Inc. is launching Petmate what is termed as a ‘Fitbit for pets.’ It is a dedicated pet healthcare program especially helpful for geriatric pets. Petmate is like a real-time health checker that monitors pet heartbeats with a wearable device connected with the owner’s mobile phones. Then there is another Korean startup Petdoc, which is an animal care app service offering real-time vet counseling service, safe pet food, companion animal consignment, education, and cultural facilities, etc.

All pet owners love to flaunt their fur babies on social media, but the Korean startup BlockPet has started an exclusive social media community platform for pets. The blockchain-based service offers a reward system for using the app. BlockPet aims to build a unique companion animal-related ecosystem that allows users to share the necessary information by having ownership and rights of content as content producers and receiving clear rewards through sharing.

Pets give joy throughout their life, but they have shorter lives than us, and when they die, the grief is unbearable. Pet Forest is a Korean startup that helps pet owners say a proper goodbye to their beloved dogs, cats, etc. The startup runs a funeral service, offering cremations, spaces to keep urns, memorial service, qualified funeral director, and staff for the funeral procedure.

Investors, VC firms show interest in the fast-growing industry

Pet owners and their pets in Korea sure do have many options for pet services now with innovative startups. The fast-growing pet service market has also attracted prominent investors, venture capital firms to put in their bit for love for dogs and technology. A 2019 Data by the Korea Rural Economic Institute reveals that Korea’s pet-related market will grow to 5.8 trillion won around $ 4.8 billion in 2020. No wonder, the promising pet services sector is getting attention from investors.

Cute Customers of Bacon Box.
In May 2018, Bacon received a significant investment boost of 800 million won or about $707k from Korea Investment Partners and Blue Point Partners. Varram’s initial Kickstarter campaign for the pet fitness model has raised over $30,000 more than their goal.

BlockPet is backed by Accelerator New Paradigm Investment, a subsidiary of leading venture capital firm TS Investment. Besides, venture capital firms like LB Investment, Samsung Venture Investment, Samsung Electronics’ venture capital affiliate, Naver’s venture capital firm Spring Camp, have invested in various pet service companies in South Korea. Thinkwave Inc.’s team behind Petmate got to attend the prestigious tech-fest in Asia – the RISE conference in HongKong in 2019, supported by the Korea Institute of Startups & Entrepreneurship Development(KISED) where they got attention from hundreds of influential investors.

Certainly there is an increase in number of Koreans loving the company of pet animals.  The recent closure of a famous dog meat market in Busan  with a pet-friendly cafe reflects the change in South Korea’s general attitude toward companion animals. Overall, it is a booming time for the pet market – food, service, and innovative technology as more and more Koreans choose pet companions’ unconditional love for life.

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