FluentPet

Growth Stage

Your dog has a lot to say—our technology gives them a voice

Analytics

Raised to Date: Raised: $766,415

Aggregate Commitments $

Platform

Republic

Start Date

10/05/2021

Close Date

12/31/2021

Min. Goal

$25,000

Max. Goal

$1,070,000

Min. Investment

$100

Security Type

Equity - Preferred

Funding Type

RegCF

Series

Series A

Price Per Share

$3.36

Pre-Money Valuation

$16,000,000

Rolling Commitments $

Status
Funded
Reporting Date

01/02/2022

Days Remaining
Funded
% of Min. Goal

3,066%

% of Max. Goal

72%

Likelihood of Max
Funded
Avg. Daily Raise

$8,809

Momentum
Funded
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Location

San Diego, California

Industry

Pet Health, Food, and Services

Tech Sector

Hardwaretech

Distribution Model

B2C

Margin

Low

Capital Intensity

Low

Business Type

Growth

FluentPet, with a valuation of $16 million, is raising funds on Republic. The company has developed sound buttons that act as catalysts for communication with pets. The FluentPet system is made up of recordable sound buttons and connecting HexTiles that help cats, dogs, and other pets to express themselves and be understood by humans. FluentPet has remained solidly profitable for the first quarter of 2021, with over $3.3 million trailing twelve months revenue as of June 2021. Leo Trottier founded FluentPet in September 2015. The current crowdfunding campaign has a minimum target of $25,000 and a maximum target of $1,070,000. The campaign proceeds will be used for growth and expansion.

Summary Profit and Loss Statement

Most Recent Year Prior Year

Revenue

$3,300,000

$10,284

COGS

$934,877

$12,592

Tax

$0

$0

 

 

Net Income

$185,237

$-316,460

Summary Balance Sheet

Most Recent Year Prior Year

Cash

$406,230

$1,207

Accounts Receivable

$0

$0

Total Assets

$637,767

$59,654

Short-Term Debt

$841,490

$920,360

Long-Term Debt

$1,023,292

$762,546

Total Liabilities

$1,864,782

$1,682,906

Financials as of: 10/05/2021
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Ratings KingsCrowd Startup Rating Methodology Article

Analyst Report Analyst Report Methodology Article

Synopsis

More than 48 million American households had a dog in 2018, and there are more than 75 million dogs in the US. Pet adoptions soared to new heights during the COVID-19 pandemic. Animal rescue organizations reported anywhere from 15% to 40% year-over-year adoption increases in 2020. According to Rover.com, 93% of these adopters said that their “pandemic pet” improved their mental or physical wellbeing during quarantine, and 90% of dogs adopted during the pandemic are still living with their new family. 

All of these new pets only increase humans’ interest in getting closer to their furry friends. That’s where FluentPet comes in. FluentPet is a new way to improve communication with pets. As many have seen on TikTok or YouTube, owners can teach their pets how to “talk” by pressing buttons associated with words. For example, dogs could say “want water” or “need cuddles” and further expand their vocabularies. The FluentPet method is informed by recent discoveries in cognitive science. FluentPet became a viral sensation thanks to Bunny the dog, who has 6.7 million TikTok followers, and has since generated more than $3 million in revenue over the last 12 months.  

FluentPet’s current Republic raise has been rated a Neutral Deal by the Kingscrowd investment team.

Price

FluentPet is offering equity through a stock purchase agreement at a $16 million valuation. That’s a pretty fair price for a company with well-established traction and room to grow into additional distribution channels. FluentPet’s most valuable asset is its virality. When Bunny the dog took the FluentPet method viral, amassing 6.7 million followers, millions of people were suddenly exposed to FluentPet. That traffic led to more than $3 million in revenue over the last 12 months for a reasonable revenue-to-valuation multiple of roughly five times. FluentPet investors have the chance to profit if the company continues its strong growth.

Market

FluentPet is a niche product that doesn’t fit precisely into existing pet toy markets. The company is defining a new market of “pet communication technology.” And fortunately for FluentPet, pet owners are willing to spend a lot of money on their furry friends. The global pet care market is expected to reach $200 billion by 2025, and the market for pet toys in particular is projected to hit $3.7 billion by 2027. These markets aren’t expanding very rapidly, though, with compound annual growth rates of 4.9% and 5.8% respectively.  

FluentPet offers another more direct market sizing methodology: multiplying dog-owning households by the value of FluentPet’s product. If every one of the 48 million dog-owning households in America bought the FluentPet starter system for $80, that would amount to more than $3.8 billion in total addressable market for FluentPet (not counting follow-on orders of additional buttons and mats). But realistically, FluentPet can probably hope to obtain 5% or less of these households as customers for closer to $192 million in market potential. 

FluentPet is situated in a valuable pet care market, but it’s a niche product that isn’t an essential purchase for every pet owner. Even if a great deal of households bought the FluentPet system, the company’s market potential is far less than many more mainstream pet care companies.

Team

FluentPet was founded by cognitive scientist Leo Trottier. After graduating from the University of Toronto with a BS in cognitive science, Trottier moved on to UC San Diego for his doctoral degree. But before completing the program, he discovered the potential for pet cognition products and dropped out to found CleverPet (FluentPet’s parent company). Trottier has since spent the last seven years building the business. 

Leo Trottier appears to be FluentPet’s primary team member. Jelmer Tiete, an engineering PhD student, appears to work part-time as FluentPet’s hardware and manufacturing lead. The team also includes several researchers who focus on the academic and community-driven side of FluentPet’s operations. An additional handful of team members are scattered across customer happiness, user interface and user experience, and marketing, but many of these staffers seem to work part-time. 

Overall, the FluentPet team has room to grow. But Trottier’s cognitive science background provides a strong foundation for the company. And lead FluentPet guide Alexis Devine — the owner of Bunny the dog — also brings value to the company in being an organic ambassador for FluentPet technology.

Differentiators

There are several other companies offering recordable buttons that allow pets to learn words. However, FluentPet appears to be the most robust language-learning system for pets. Other products contain merely buttons, many of them seemingly lower-quality than FluentPet, and don’t offer the hexagonal mat system or soon-to-be-launched language-learning app that improves the FluentPet user experience. 

Plus, FluentPet’s huge competitive advantage is the publicity it has received. Bunny the “talking dog” (with 6.7 million followers on TikTok) uses FluentPet. In fact, Bunny and her owner are FluentPet ambassadors. Bunny and other “talking dogs” have driven significant organic press for FluentPet, and the company currently tops any Google searches for ways to communicate with pet dogs. 

But FluentPet’s branding is not as polished as some of its competitors’. If FluentPet doesn’t upgrade its brand, there’s a chance that a competitor could overtake FluentPet’s viral lead in the pet communication space.

Performance

FluentPet is a capital-efficient business showing steady revenue growth thanks to publicity in the last year. FluentPet generated just $10,000 in revenue in 2019, but this jumped to $1.5 million in 2020. FluentPet has raked in more than $3.3 million over the 12 months ending in June 2021. The company has projected total revenues of $5.4 million for 2021 and is on track to hit that estimate. Even more impressive, FluentPet is profitable. Its net income was more than $185,000 in 2020 and is projected to grow in 2021. 

FluentPet has raised more than $2 million from Ruvento Ventures, Asimov Ventures, and Techstars. Angel investors like Facebook’s “Employee #1” have also contributed capital. The company also has a sustained partnership with a top-tier university to conduct ongoing cognitive science research, and it has earned mention in top-tier publications like Buzzfeed and The New York Times

FluentPet is outperforming on most performance metrics. These signals point to continued growth and opportunity for investors. 

Risks

FluentPet is a much lower risk investment than most crowdfunding opportunities given its significant traction and profitability. The company has already proven that it can produce and sell products, even with minimal burn. The main source of risk for FluentPet moving forward is its small team. The company has matured to a degree that it requires more dedicated product development, marketing, and operational talent. Otherwise, FluentPet is a stable business without a great deal of risk.

Bearish Outlook

FluentPet’s team is far too small for the size of the business. It appears that FluentPet is largely run by founder Leo Trottier with some help from a handful of other researchers and staffers. Trottier doesn’t have any business experience outside of FluentPet and can’t possibly cover all areas of need (finance, marketing, sales, distribution, product development, etc.) on his own. FluentPet’s small team inevitably leads to a lack of nimbleness, which leaves FluentPet vulnerable to competition from a well-funded new entrant. 

In addition, FluentPet’s overall brand presence isn’t ideal for a growing consumer-focused startup with this much publicity. Likely due to its small team, FluentPet doesn’t appear to have the overall brand polish that consumers have grown to expect, particularly for products that are featured so heavily on social media. The FluentPet website could probably benefit from an upgrade, and the company could be doing more to leverage its press hits into new customer acquisition. If FluentPet doesn’t professionalize quickly with a larger team and more polished brand, there’s a chance that a competitor could offer a more compelling product and leave FluentPet in the dust.

Bullish Outlook

It’s fairly remarkable that FluentPet has been able to attain more than $3 million in revenue over the last 12 months with minimal burn, a small team, and only direct-to-consumer distribution. Revenue and profitability results are impressive, and past performance only signals the potential that FluentPet has to expand in the future. 

FluentPet has many opportunities on the horizon, any of which could spur dramatic new growth. The company’s upcoming mobile app should significantly improve the product experience for pet owners, breeding more consumer loyalty and increased lifetime value. Opening up new distribution channels, like PetSmart or Petco, could introduce FluentPet to a huge new audience. Leveraging the success of its Bunny the “talking dog” partnership, FluentPet could also partner with other pet-owning influencers to continue driving viral growth. FluentPet’s traction up to this point far exceeds the progress of most startups, and it seems as though the best may be yet to come. At this fair valuation, investors have the chance to purchase stock in a growing business.

Executive Summary

FluentPet helps owners communicate with their pets. Dogs can learn the meaning of words associated with buttons and can then press those buttons to “speak” in short sentences like “want outside.” Bunny the “talking dog” made this process viral in 2020, and FluentPet has since made more than $3 million in revenue over 12 months from pet owners looking to teach their own dogs to talk. This makes the company’s current valuation a fair deal for investors. With exciting new business opportunities on the horizon, FluentPet seems primed for future growth. 

Investors should also keep in mind that FluentPet has a very small team that isn’t well-suited to be running a growth-stage company. Many team members are focused on cognitive science research, which doesn’t directly benefit FluentPet’s bottom line. The FluentPet brand is also in need of an upgrade, and the company could use a professional polish to better protect it from competitors. Overall, FluentPet has been rated a Neutral Deal. 

For questions regarding the KingsCrowd staff pick or ratings for this company, please reach out to support@kingscrowd.com

Analysis written October 21, 2021.

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FluentPet on Republic 2021
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Platform: Republic
Security Type: Equity - Preferred
Valuation: $16,000,000

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