Co-founded by Patrick Opie and Luisa Ruge, Pocket Scout is an app that aims to help dogs improve their well-being by empowering their human parents to make smarter decisions on their behalf. Their mission is to improve dog wellbeing by empowering their human counterparts to make smarter decisions on their behalf. They help validate decisions prior to purchasing a product or scheduling service for your dog.
Interested in learning more about Scout 9 Pocket Scout?
Visit their website at https://www.scout9.com/.
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Welcome to the Animal Innovation Show Patrick O. P. And we still really you’ve tuned into the Animal Innovation show where we feature people, products, services and ideas that are helping animals and the people who care for them live better lives if it’s innovative and if it helps animals you can find it here first. So get ready. Here comes this week’s newest innovation for animals. Excellent. Well I’m so glad to have both of you guys here. So tell us who are you and how are you innovating and helping animals. Yeah, so I’m Patrick O. B. The co founder of Scout Nine, been doing this for a few years. My co founder lisa can explain about what we’re doing. So I’m Louisa. Our backgrounds are a little bit different. Patrick has more of a consulting, engineering, physics, music background. Okay, my background is more in design and for the last, I don’t know, 18 years, it was mostly focused on humans. Okay, about seven years ago I shifted that focus to focus on animals a bit as users, as legitimate users of products. And the latest thing around that is a PhD and something called animal computer interaction. So our shared interests of dogs and how to improve their lives in my part through design and in Patrick’s through leveraging technology, that’s what brought us together and that’s what Scout Nine is basically. Cool. So tell us more about it, how does it work? How do I use it? Walk me through that process. So it started as like this idea where the problem that we’re trying to solve, like I got my dog and I wish he was here so I can show him, but my now wife and I, we got a mini Aussie and everything that kind of like we’re supposed to do what completely wrong, like we relate to vaccinations training, even purchase like the wrong food grain free, the like all these trends we just fell for. And I remember like we were always looking for like ways where we can kind of like check if it’s a good fit or discover something that’s a good purchase or not. And there’s really nothing out there. You just read a bunch of blogs and a bunch of opinions and there’s really nothing that can kind of like zero and in terms of like what’s a good fit for your dog for this given time. So I was wondering like what if there’s, you know, um and louis also, she also had a very similar idea as well, but at the time I was like, you know, there’s bark boxes, pop box, but what if there’s like something that can kind of like guide you through your dog’s life, like on board you to like raising a dog and help you make these, like, better decisions as you go along. And that kind of led to the creation of our tech, which was the Pocket Scout, The Pocket Scout. It’s still evolving. It’s still like this concept. But think of using all like the ml machine language learning, is that what you mean? Yeah, machine learning. Like we use like our NNS and like Federated learning to create these models where people can kind of use this in their daily lives and it learns from the actions and helps make decisions around their dog. Like, hey, like what’s a good food for my dog? Like my dog is doing these things like, what should I do if I run into this problem, That kind of thing. And right now, it kind of, if you use it today in the prototype, it will look like a baby center kind of thing. If you heard of baby center. No, it’s like, it’s the site that it’s really cool. It’s a site that kind of goes through the weeks of a pregnancy. So you can see like what you should do to prepare like each each week. It kind of acts like that. But the future is kind of student that concept. But being able to intercept installed and resolve like any problem that you have your dog and improve their well being in the process. I don’t have much more about the well being and how she got to scout nine. Yeah, please go ahead please. So my side, it was a little bit different and it was more like throughout my time interacting with animals and designing for them. This idea that they are legitimate users of products and services, but a lot of the products and services out there are designed actually for us to use and then the animal makes do so my intention behind this was more how can I, how can I make sure that the choices you’re making on behalf of your dog actually reflect what your dog actually needs as an individual. So this whole concept of well being came about where dogs also are, have a user experience of a product. We can’t ask them because, you know, they can’t tell us what they thought of it, but as their caretakers, I do think that our responsibility extends to make sure that it is a good user experience and it is impacting them positively. So that if we’re getting them food, it’s food that’s nutritious for them. And if we’re getting them a toy, it’s something that’s bringing them delight. And a lot of the times if you think of the user experience cycle, it kind of stops at the purchasing point. So you’re like dog needs food, I get food, I give food, who knows now we’re done. And so it was this idea that how can you close that loop by almost enlisting the caretaker, pet partner, pet parent to be like, hey, let’s, let’s see how this went if it actually worked or not. And that’s where there’s an interface with tech to kind of enable that to happen. I was going to say, how does that feedback loop work? How are you learning from this? So some of it is a, like if you tell us a little bit about who your dog is, we can start inferring certain aspects of what a good well being match would be. So that’s a little bit of kind of the secret sauce in a way. And based on those, we can start to kind of guide you into making better decisions on their behalf. So for example, in Patrick’s case with oren maybe knowing it was a mini Aussie or his age might have been like maybe this food not that food vaccines probably here. So it helps you preempt kind of what will happen based on your dog and then going forward. Like in terms of learning from the feedback that you get with the activities that you do, we estimate like this is a good food for your dog, can improve your dog’s nutrition well being by some measurable number that we create and then we test if that makes sense, based off like kind of the output in the future. And then because we’re using like a recurrent neural network, we can then verify like did this actually happen or it was our assumption correct. If not we can train the model to say like maybe it’s not actually this, it’s more like in this direction, which is great because then we can Federated that across everyone’s devices. So we can actually learn and track it’s like well being is being improved or if it’s doing what we expect it is, and we can really learn more about our customers and find ways to, you know, navigate them to improving well being based off the behaviors that they’re doing the app. What would you do if your cat stop breathing? Would you be able to check their pulse or perform rescue breathing and CPR in time to save their life? Getting certified in cat first Aid and CPR is essential to being prepared in case of an emergency. That’s why the Animal Rescue Professionals Association teamed up with Denise fleck the pet safety crusader to bring you the courses and certifications. You need to be prepared. Their cat first aid and CpR course will teach you what you need to know about how to find your cats pulse and respiration rates, and how to conduct rescue breathing and see pcR if required. You also learn how to deal with other emergencies, like snakebites, bee stings and tick removal. So you can render the age or pet requires learn more at www dot animal rescue professionals dot org and get certified today. Yeah, that’s what I was going to go. So how does the owner now? No. Did well being improved. Right. Is it are you querying me serving me? I’m somehow providing you that feedback that says my dog is more active. He seems more engaged. He’s more happy all those things. Yes. So we have these proprietary and models where we kind of well together, where we take into like how do we measure if your dog has a good nutrition well being? Like what’s the so that that’s like things like are they eating this many calories or they have this many macronutrients, micronutrients and all that. But more importantly like is the user observing patterns that would indicate that that’s a good behavior because sometimes we can’t get that like discreet of data. So we have to make a lot of inferences. So we check with the user to see if like is this kind of what we’re assuming? Like validating it if, so then our recommendations are doing what they should be doing and if they’re not, we adjust and help make better decisions for other people. So the more people that use this better and more insight, we can say like, hey, like maybe this isn’t a good direction for this user base of this patterns. You can put them through this direction and so forth. Well I think it’s really cool. It’s like you said, the more people that use it, the smarter the algorithm gets. So based upon the feedback, it’s, you know, if chris says, oh this is great, that’s one data point. But if you get 1000 chris is now, you’ve got 1000 data points that you can get better information. Exactly. We definitely like a layer at the bottom. We start with a baseline, we can tell if a product is like that’s not a good fit at all. Like we can calculate it. If it’s going to be really bad, we don’t have to guess. So we start with that baseline definitely as a startup, we can’t get the data we need, you know, that we want to have. So we have helpfully work with a lot of base inputs. Yeah, I was going to ask you how because it does seem like you would need a lot of data. Certainly I can give you data on my animal. But is it up to you guys to go do all the research on all the pet foods and the toys and the training and all this other stuff to load up the other side of this we have to create would say we have like this subset of preloaded profiles that we would create that we analyzed and that’s where are we identify our test data and from there we can kind of reference people from those datasets. Like okay you have a small dog that’s a mini Aussie. We also like trained and tested with this model through this amount of time. And then we let you go out with your new model. We give you when you download the app and then based off like how that’s going to come back and say like how is the results based off our test data or other users in a similar category? And then we’re constantly learning or building new tested to ensure that things are going Expectedly, there are times where there’s things where, you know, we didn’t anticipate or maybe it’s going in a direction, we probably don’t want these guys to go. So we have to definitely program rules to ensure that things are going as expected. Or at least I filter out really bad decisions. They I want to go down. I was going to say it’s a computer, it doesn’t really know right. You’re just feeding at data. It doesn’t really understand the well being of dogs yet. Yeah, I think the relevancy stuff that we’ve had, like we have this thing this like this criteria or just before it sends out recommendations, We have like essentially a veterinarian we interviewed helped us kind of build this out. So yeah, so it’s just checks like, okay, we’re send this out, it’s this like gonna do these X things, you know, because we don’t like what if it’s wrong or or God forbid if it gave like a result that led to disastrous results, we gotta make sure filter that out interesting is going to say, you guys have to come up with all of the scenarios and think of, as you said, it’s kind of like how do you filter out something that just doesn’t make sense or that could be dangerous. I’m not sure that that would be. But I guess you never know right over time as you add more products and more things to this, you know, that side of the algorithm, it’s possible that you could have something that just doesn’t make sense. Yeah, there’s to be safe and sorry for sure. Now where do you take this? Like is the goal? I know you talked about me as a new pet parent, but it also seems like it would be this ongoing thing where you’d be giving me new information and better information recommendations and things like that for my dog. So if you think of the concept of the Pocket Scout, it’s kind of like a little helper in a way, you know, it partners, it’s like you the Pocket Scout and your dog and that’s why there is an assumption that if your dog gets older, you kind of have it down, you know what to do. But there is a possibility to always discover new things or better things to do for your dog. So the idea is this kind of lifetime partner that regardless of where you’re entering the dogs journey in terms of how old they are, Maybe you adopted a five year old or you got a puppy and everything in between. You can start using the pocket scout to be like, yeah, your little helper throughout the process and not only let you deal with as a new pet parent, kind of that steep learning curve in terms of everything that’s happening, but you know how to be a better pet parent for an adult dog, a senior dog, what if your dog develops a disease or something happens? So yeah, it’s this kind of dynamic and adaptive helper that that’s like, hey, this happened, let’s find the best thing we can do together. And the tech part is really good because there is so much content out there. Like we were speaking before, there’s so many blogs, so many recommendations. So many styles of taking care of a dog, not, you know, some might, we might think are better than others personally. But there’s all sorts of ways to do it and we support all of them. But how do you make that easier to based on who you want to be as a caretaker to sift through all of that to find what really meets your dog’s needs. So now, how did you guys come to meet and come to work on this? I know Patrick, you’ve got a background in software development. Take us back to the point where the idea for this kind of light bulb, right? We need to do this. Yeah. So we had this, uh, investor who worked in the pet care space and I was pitching the idea. I remember at first to, he’s like, he’s like, man, it’s just way too ambitious for like, you know, like, yeah, but like after a few iterations was like kind of like, no, it’s the pocket scouting, does these things. And he was like, I just heard something very similar. Um, and I need you to talk to this person and you gave me her name and it was the least least reached out to me. Hey, I think we’re doing something very similar and we get feedback from other investors that like people said like, hey, you don’t know dogs very well. You’re just some dog owner that no software. That’s great. But you’re missing the wellbeing stuff. You’re not, how do you know your models like even work for dogs and prove. And uh, so like your critical feedback, you guys like you don’t like the coding aspect. But yeah, it is a tech heavy endeavor and that is not my wheelhouse, my actual user experience and mostly qualitative research. So that’s where the intersection of skill sets happens. Have you seen amazing animal foster videos on facebook and instagram and wondered how you could create videos for your foster cats to highlight their true personalities and get them adopted? Do you want to be an adoption ambassador for your foster animals but lack the tools to easily capture and post compelling video of their true personality? 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Which I think is a very interesting problem is like you know I really run into problems where it’s like a you need both for it to work you know and so that’s why I don’t really find this partnership so unique but in the future one of the one thing we want to do is we want to build a community we want to create, we think we have a very strong core capability that can support a in context commerce solution and what we want to build out is this community of pet partners that can kinda communicate with each other and share their experiences with their dogs. What solutions do they used to overcome certain challenges and problems in their life and then share like results with the pocket scale, like, like someone like me can send you a page that says, hey, for my dog, I used the pockets, got to get me these things. I also added carrots arugula to my dog’s food. It was great, I loved it. And then you might say, hey, that’s great. I tried that out, but I also, I did this instead, I saw way better results and then other people can go see that on the web and, and we think just having that community of like people to improve and become like Rock star Pet partners is a, we’re going out tonight vicinity. No, I think it’s that so as we move forward, the 3 to 5 years is about kind of validating this, this assumption. And right now, initially with the well being bottles, you can have like a tech point of view. Then what Patrick was saying it’s the community point of view. And then there will also be like an individual point of view like you and your dog and by triangulating that that’s how we’re kind of making this fail safe approach to really making sure that dog’s wellbeing is improved. So from a tech aspect, like I was saying, you can make the tech work in your favor from a community aspect, you’re probably not the person that has faced this problem for the first time ever. Somebody has probably been there before, even if it’s super specific. So why not leverage that and learn from them? And then from an individual perspective, you know, you interact a lot with your dog. So, so what, what is there that we can build off of this sort of tacit knowledge you have about your dog, that you can actually turn into things that are better for them. So it’s like making sure that whatever we build a tackles those three aspects in a way that engages people and yeah, just as happier dogs. Very cool. Now, I know you guys are still working on this, but can people go try this out, now, can they go sign up and start playing around and giving you feedback? Yeah, right now we have a prototype that’s uh, only for puppies at the moment. So anyone with a puppy can go in and use it to kind of plan and prepare for their puppy life events such as uh upcoming die transitions, vaccination, appointments, training all that so they can sign up and use it for free. And uh we do have a little service. We wouldn’t try it out where we ought to schedule appointments and purchase products on their behalf but totally optional, interesting. So where do people go? We’re tell them where they can go to try it out and play around with it. So you go to Scout nine dot com and there’s a button that says enter prototype and then you go in to your dogs information create a profile and you’re all set. So altogether just S. C. O. U. T. Nine. Number nine. Cool. Yeah. We’ll make sure to put links in the show notes and stuff like that so people can easily get there. So Patrick and Louisa is, or anything else you wanted to mention before we wrap things up today, I guess, like for, well, we’re releasing a few more months, the beta, which we’re really excited, the community aspect that we’re talking about very much looking forward to that in terms of, you know, having a platform where people can kind of share their experience and use the pockets, got to their advantage. We had people like early users that kind of had puppies when they use the program. The puppies are adults, so the product is not very useful. So get a lot of emails and messages for pockets got to be more accessible to older dogs, so we will have that ups to, for me, I think, well, thank you for having us. This is really like talking about what you’re building is always it’s nice to hear yourself talk about what you’re building from a from a different perspective. And I just think that, you know, there’s an opportunity here to, in a way enables dogs, consumer voices to be heard and to be understood and kind of that that’s the goal, is to make sure that what we’re choosing for them, benefits them. And, you know, the dog community is a very passionate community and I hope this resonates with them because yeah, who wouldn’t want to be a better caretaker, give their dog a better experience? Well, I think it’s really cool. It’s super innovative. I’m really excited to see where you guys are going to take it. And I’m really glad that you came on the show to talk about it today. Our pleasure. Thank you so much as a reminder to all our viewers and listeners. If you’ve got an idea for an innovative product service or people that I should talk to you, just go to Innovation Start show and let me know. So thank you again, Patrick. Thank you Louisa. I appreciate you guys coming on. Thank you. Chris. Thanks for joining us for the animal innovations show. 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