Wearables for pets used to be a punchline, but now it’s a legitimate business with multiple players active in the space. Said space did just get a bit smaller today, as Whistle, the startup which launched its Fitbit for dogs back in 2013. Now, Whistle is expanding its position with the acquisition of a competitor in the pet wearable space, Tagg, and adding another $15 million to its war chest via a Series B round led by Nokia Growth Partners and including Qualcomm, Carmelo Anthony’s Melo7 Tech Partners, Queensbridge Venture Partners and existing investors.
Whistle’s activity tracker is a small disc that snaps into a mount designed to fit any collar, and the company got out to an early lead in this space thanks to distribution deals with major retailers like PetSmart. It has raised $25 million including this round, which is surprisingly little for a hardware startup that has already managed to ship one device at scales large enough for international distribution in a major chain.
Whistle introduced a new piece of hardware last year – the WhistleGPS, which was designed to provide a dog’s location using both GPS and a special cellular technology for accurate tracking of lost pets. Tagg, a Qualcomm subsidiary that Whistle acquires today, is already the largest maker of such a device, which is currently shipping, while Whistle’s own product has a promised ship date of “late 2015″ on its website.
The acquisition of Tagg answers the demand that Whistle saw for the WhistleGPS product through their pre-order campaign, and Whistle co-founder and CEO Ben Jacobs says that its unique GPS and pet tracking technology will be combined with Whistle’s existing industrial and product design smarts, as well as its user experience on both the hardware and software side to answer that expressed need, as well as push the evolution of Whistle’s pet hardware even further.
Tagg’s hardware, which offers the longest lasting batteries in the pet tracking category with between 7 and 14 days, as well as data connectivity that covers the U.S. in addition to GPS, will continue to be sold at PetTracker.com. Tagg’s tech and brand will be “fully integrated” into Whistle’s platform by the end of this year, but Tagg owners will receive full support for their products without interruption of their location-tracking service, Whistle says.
Whistle’s funding from this round will be used to help it expand its product line to new areas and expand the company in general. Whistle appears to be building towards becoming the central brand for smart pet products, with a far-reaching platform that makes good use of the data delivered by connected products, so expect more from them in terms of exploring brand new areas for our connected furry pals.