CleverPet Startup Wins First Place & a $10,000 Check in MecklerMedia’s RoboGameChanger Startup Competition

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cleverpetWhen it comes to the latest RoboGameChanger Startup Competition sponsored by MecklerMedia, we keep our eyes peeled for the winners. Big California expos, big competitions, big checks–and big wins aside–we just want to know when we can see idle paws placed on the new interactive robot designed to keep our dogs happy and engaged, all the day long.

Yours truly has a six-week-old puppy in the house, and he needs some serious entertainment–along with his other two canine cohorts. And one doesn’t always require being gone from the home to need play for the pets. Working from the home office, many pets of telecommuters too should find joy in the CleverPet, which may indeed offer you relief from tiny teeth biting your toes as you type or attempt to engage in a serious call. The product is mainly designed out of compassion for dogs who are left alone during the workday, however.startup3

And apparently, the judges at the MecklerMedia’s RoboUniverse San Diego understood the calling for just such a product as well, deeming the CleverPet startup as the winner of the second RoboGameChanger Startup Competition.

On December 15th, the first-place winner was awarded a $10,000 uncapped convertible note, courtesy of Asimov Ventures. Presented in a large check, which Asimov Ventures has become fond of–as seen in Santa Clara in October’s Inside 3D Printing Startup Competition–the note represents the big win for CleverPet.Winner

“Following the success of the inaugural RoboGameChanger competition, Asimov Ventures is proud to award the winner of this second pitch event a $10,000 uncapped convertible note. We were impressed by the strength and diversity of the teams, who presented breakthroughs in Drones, Robotic Arms, and Vision Recognition among other fields,” said Tyler Benster of Asimov Ventures.

“Today’s winner is CleverPet, a San Diego startup whose ‘Dog Game Console’ engages dogs for automatic all-day play. Many of us who have a dog have little choice but to leave the pet alone for hours at a time. CleverPet’s creative and polished robot appeals to dog owners everywhere.”

Judges for the competition were:CleverPet_Header-658x370

  • Tyler Benster, General Partner, Asimov Ventures
  • Ellen Chang, Managing Partner, LightSpeed Innovation
  • Rick Dalton, Managing Director, Mooreland Partners
  • Houman Haghighi, Staff Manager of Business Operations, Qualcomm Ventures
  • Dr. Ping Wang (Moderator) – Director of Qualcomm Robotics Accelerator

Representatives from the startups had three minutes to pitch their technologies and business models, followed by three minutes for questions from the judges. The lineup of startups competing was as follows:

  • Asalyon: Offering field-deployed battery swap stations for the drone industry.
  • Carbon Robotics: From the creators of Katia, they have now produced a trainable intelligent robotic arm.
  • CleverPet: This is a robot design that keeps the family dog entertained when home alone.
  • Emoters: An intelligent robotic pet that interacts and plays games with its owners.
  • GeoVisual Analytics: Creates detailed drone photos of crops to assess quality, health and quantity.
  • Haddington Dynamics: Makes low-cost, precise, multi-sensor robotic arms for manufacturing.
  • Muse Robotics: Scalable hardware platform for construction and manufacture of robots.
  • Overthrow Robotics: Full-sized, boxing robot for use in training, gyms and arcades.
  • Qelzal: Next-generation sensor-based obstacle and aircraft avoidance system for commercial drones.
  • Robolink: System to teach students how to write computer code, making it fun to learn.
  • Transcend Robots: System that enables robots to properly and safely travel up and down stairs.

Second place was awarded to GeoVisual Analytics, and third to Carbon Robotics.

dogswithtoy-1In accepting their award, Leo Trottier, CEO of CleverPet, Inc., said:

“We are humbled to have won this award, as there was a strong group of other companies that we were competing against. I was certainly impressed with the other participants, and was not expecting this great honor. We’re very happy to accept this investment from Asimov Ventures.”

UntitledThe CleverPet product, still in the final stages of development, will be on the market soon. Created out of compassion for pets, it’s a complex robotic device featuring a dome shape that offers a non-slip base and is also easy for owners to clean. ‘Ultra-sensitive’ pads on the CleverPet allow the dogs to interact, and with games, puzzles, and voice commands, they are exposed to play all day.

 “I’ve learned a lot about how dogs interact with their surroundings–and the most important take-way? A dog with a job is a happy dog,” says Graham Bloen, head trainer for the CleverPet team.

With plenty of bells, whistles, and lights, CleverPet is ‘optimized for dog engagement,’ with smart software created by PhDs in computational neuroscience.

 “CleverPet uses your dog’s morning meal and the time it spends at home to encourage interactions throughout the day,” says Dan Knudsen, co-founder. “It starts out simple. Your dog will get a treat whenever she presses any of CleverPet’s buttons. Once she has this down, CleverPet will make her job a little bit tougher. Now she only gets a treat when she presses the button that’s lit up. Once she’s learned that, the game changes again. CleverPet gradually teaches her to interact in new and interesting ways.”

If you are hoping to be one of the first to gain access to this hub of play and entertainment for your own dog, you can also enter to win one at CleverPet now. I’ve put my name in, with fingers–and puppy-ravaged toes–crossed!  Discuss this device in the RoboUniverse forum thread on

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