After the huge success of several crowdfunding campaigns for its gamed smart bird feeder, Bird Buddy has raised $ 8.5 million in seed rounds. Its first product will ship in a few months, but that’s just the beginning of what the company wants to be a new approach to using technology to enjoy nature more.
It’s an ambitious statement of purpose from a company working on something that’s obviously trivial, like a bird feeder. But co-founder and CEO Franci Zidar explained how the market is a sleeping giant.
“Birdwatching is the second largest outdoor hobby in the United States and is huge internationally,” he said. Undoubtedly, this trend accelerated during the pandemic. For many, birds comfortably reminded us that the world is certainly outside the window. “We did a lot of validation in the first half of 2020, which is what people are really passionate about and positive about. All the indicators that came back were insane.”
Still, if everyone loves birds so much, I wonder why other camera-equipped bird feeders aren’t common. Zidar thinks they are coming from the wrong direction as a whole.
“They saw these originals as people crazy about birdwatching,” he explained. “But what we’ve noticed is a brand and company about not only making smart bird feeders, but also reconnecting people with nature. The beautiful hardware people bring to their yard. It was necessary, but most of it was about reconnecting. Talk to people who are interested in birds but didn’t participate because they seemed passive, so turn passive into an activity. I made something. “
Suddenly, Bird Buddy doesn’t seem to be radically different from what already exists (although it’s certainly a better design), but at about the same cost ($ 200 on pre-order), It looks like a way Into It’s not something that only serious hobbies buy, it’s a hobby.
The secret lies in the fact of life imitation art imitation life that birds are very similar to Pokemon. Obviously birdwatching existed before the popular Monster Collection game, but they take advantage of the same “gather everything” instinct that some people have. Birds are a “perfect collectible,” Zidar said.
But being valuable about how people engage in their hobbies is just one kind of gatekeeping behavior that discourages them from even trying. Cute apps with badges, notifications, points, social sharing and other up-to-date conveniences may not be the way people imagined the growth of the birdwatching community, but they may need it. ..
The feeder itself seems to be well designed. Winning Chromecast and Kyle Buzzard, who designed a cute (but short-lived) Google self-driving car, his rounded and friendly style is clearly shown here.
Not everyone can sit by the window all day and watch birds come and go (as I do). Therefore, knowing who stopped by and receiving fun surprises in the form of seasonal seeds and regular pop-ups in the neighborhood is a great option.
There is a kind of “new bird” in the app! Achievements and tracking you might expect, and options for sharing images with others on apps and social media. Feeders can also be published — not always for viewing, but for individual bird visits.
One of the most fascinating features still under development is to identify individual birds as well as species. This is a great benefit for bird watching who cares which Jay or Junko is visiting the feeder exactly. You can give it a name and compare it to your friends under the block. Is Francine flickering in your garden?
Of course, the smart layer carries some risks, as represented by Ring, which is controversial for acting as a police surveillance network. Zidar acknowledged this tension as facing many sophisticated gadgets.
“It’s very important to us,” he said. “There is no silver bullet, but knowing about the ring blunder can give you a lot of insights. Make your device as safe as possible. The attack vector is simple and there are no hanging fruits. After all, it’s your device and no one can access it unless you want to add your wife, your child. Share bird photos with anyone who wants to share with the community There are several layers, such as sharing for an hour just by doing it. Creatures will not let you forget it. “
Image analysis also provides a layer of protection — images with people are automatically discarded. During onboarding, the user will be guided to point the feeder at the bushes and trees. And it has the usual reporting capabilities that social platforms need.
After three consecutive successful crowdfundings on Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, and a self-hosted system totaling about $ 10 million, why does the company need an additional $ 8.5 million in capital?
“We’ll do our best to lose millions of dollars overnight while building hardware,” explains Zidar. “You have to order components, pay taxes, fulfillment, and deliver. It’s all except that 2021 was the worst year to build hardware, isn’t it? Availability is reduced, isn’t it? Prices fluctuated. I didn’t know which one to get, so I needed redundant components. Shipping was also 6 to 8 times higher. With the January shipment, which was originally supposed to ship in September. Even a kind of miracle. “
Importantly, he continued, the investment represents an opportunity for the company to engage with a group of undercapitalized enthusiasts who are spending hundreds of dollars on binoculars but buying a $ 30 feeder. It comes from the recognition by General Catalyst. Zidar wants to set up a company where Bird Buddy is just the first step, with the idea of ”reconnecting with nature” mentioned above as its main purpose and brand.
For him and his co-founder, “We both did a lot of interesting things … but having a core mission that you can match to make people care about nature and wildlife Rarely. And the best way to do that is to get them involved — building a huge community of people who do it. So we love and trust people. We are building a brand to do. “
As a very amateur birdwatcher, I find it a fascinating project, but of course it all depends on execution. We hope to test Bird Buddy shipping early next year and be able to make informed decisions about whether the team has achieved what it has set.
Bird Buddy lands $8.5M to pursue ‘tech for nature’ after smart bird feeder campaign takes off – TechCrunch Source link Bird Buddy lands $8.5M to pursue ‘tech for nature’ after smart bird feeder campaign takes off – TechCrunch
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