Please welcome Companion, a company helping you and your pet live a better life together

Meet Companion, the latest addition to Lerer Hippeau’s portfolio.

HQ: San Francisco

Founder: John Honchariw

The problem: Parenting a pet is challenging — our animals deserve the companionship and attention we would give to a child. But we can’t attend to our pets every minute, and inevitably, our ability to communicate with them and understand their wants and needs is limited. Arranging for companionship and pet training is time consuming, expensive, and, without tremendous repetition, mostly ineffective. Even the most dedicated of dog owners don’t have the skills or time to hone their pets’ behaviors for their full lifetimes, and might appreciate a helping hand to manage their companions’ health and well-being. And, with record dog adoptions during the pandemic and parents starting to return to work, a whole generation of pets is about to experience conditions like separation anxiety, with few in-home resources available. To date, there has been very little tech to address these challenges and contribute significantly to improving pets’ behaviors, communication, and well-being.

Companion’s solution: Companion’s service takes a 360 approach to engaging with pets and parents. The Companion device engages and trains dogs using machine learning, robotics, computer vision, and state of the art reward-based training, and spends otherwise-idle hours with them, getting to know their wants, needs, and behaviors. The Companion app and Companion Coach provide support for pet parents and equip them with content, personalized video onboarding and chat help, and monitoring of a pet’s progress in the Companion curriculum. Through monitoring, the service supervises a pet’s well-being and can detect abnormalities in behavior early, contributing to a pet’s longevity. The overall ecosystem allows for continuous positive reinforcement for dogs of all ages, and aims to help people better understand and communicate with the pets they love.

Origin story: We first met Companion when they attended Lerer Hippeau’s Clubhouse Chat on the Future of Pet Tech. We were immediately impressed by Companion’s team of world-class technologists, animal welfare experts, researchers, and entrepreneurs, and their partnerships with the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Google, and a long waitlist of eager customers while they have been building in stealth mode.

Why we’re betting on it: Companion’s technology, stewarded by a strong team of hardware and computer vision executives with deep connections in the pet space, helps improve relationships among pets and parents. An entire generation of adopted pets has gotten very used to spending all day, every day inside with their parents during the pandemic. As we return to a hybrid work model, pets and parents will face a rude awakening: separation anxiety and regression in training. A tool that’s able to maintain positive reinforcement in training while offering a new form of companionship makes total sense in this climate. We’ll all feel better going back to work if we know our pets are being engaged and stimulated at home. Once the pandemic is behind us, we’re eager to explore how great communication can look among pets and parents and help us expand understanding of our four-legged friends. And, our track record of backing pet companies like Bark, Fi, and Ollie make us especially excited to partner with Companion.

Our take: For parents, pets are akin to children. Everyone craves companionship and connection for their dogs, and comprehensive training is a key component of a positive relationship with a pet. Plus, the pet space is estimated to be an over $100 billion industry, and it’s ripe for disruption. Companion’s solution will reach millions of homes, and also professional working dog businesses, boarding facilities, and trainers. All of these demographics recognize the need and opportunity for better and more affordable companionship models for their beloved animals.

Further reading: joincompanion.com

Keep up with our community. Subscribe to the Daily Roundup and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

Lerer Hippeau is the most active early-stage venture capital fund in New York.

Lerer Hippeau is the most active early-stage venture capital fund in New York.