If you enter “GPS Tracker” on Amazon, receives 20,000 search results. Some devices should be suitable for attachment to cars, others for purses, bicycles or pets. The latter also sells the startup Tractive, as one of hundreds of vendors. Nevertheless, a few weeks ago, the start-up company from Austria received an investment from well-known financiers: the Trivago founders invested a seven-figure sum and now hold three percent in Tractive.
The startup does the same thing as all other providers of GPS devices – right? CEO and founder Michael Hurnaus denies. Contrary to the competitors one is “more specialized”, he says. One does not want to be “an average GPS tracker for everyone, but rather the best in dogs and cats”.
Always know where the four-legged friend is
For dogs, Tractive offers a GPS tracker to clasp the collar, for cats one integrated into its own collar. The devices should be water and mud-tight. By mobile, they send the animal’s location to the smartphone of its owner. In an app, they can follow their pet so nearly live, the delay is according to the founder two seconds.
The purpose of the whole: to quickly find the dog when he runs away, or to see where the stray cat is roaming. Similar products include companies such as Petpointer, Prothelis, Kippy and Whistle. Tractive has a market share of 90 percent in Germany, says Hurnaus.
His pet monitor sold the startup for around 50 euros, for the use of the app comes to five euros a month. According to Hurnaus, the business is running: In 2018, they sold a six-digit number of products via Amazon and their own online shop and were thus “just before break-even”. He does not comment on the cost of production. You produce in China, because the production in Europe is not financeable.
Runtastic founder gave the impetus
With animals Hurnaus, who was a programmer before his time as founder, has nothing to do with his hat – he does not even have a pet. He came to the idea of becoming self-employed with dog and cat trackers at his former employer Amazon in Silicon Valley, he says. There he had to help with the search for the runaway dog of a colleague and wondered why there is no technical aid for it. So he came up with the idea to develop one himself.
However, his “good friend” Florian Gschwandtner, who was already the CEO of his own startup Runtastic, motivated him for reasons. Gschwandtner visited him in the USA and convinced him to found a company out of the dog tracking idea. “A few days later, I quit my good job at Amazon, I’m back to Austria and I started,” says Hurnaus.
After ten years: Why Florian Gschwandtner steps down as Runtastic CEO Two weeks ago Florian Gschwandtner announced that he will leave his startup at the end of the year. In an interview he talks about the reasons and the time afterwards.
Florian Gschwandtner and his three Runtastic co-founders also gave the start-up financing, they have been shareholders of Tractive since the start. After that, everything went really fast: Founded in October 2012, the first product was on the market in early 2013. “We wanted to quickly bring out a product to incorporate the customer feedback,” says Hurnaus, who was even a few months subtenant with his first team in the Runtastic office in Pasching.
Next year “at least 50 percent” grow
Since mid-December, Trivago founders Rolf Schrömgens, Stephan Stubner, Malte Siewert and Peter Vinnemeier have also been partners in Tractive. They invest in companies through their company Monkfish Equity, including Hellofresh and Alphapet. He met Schrömgens at a business event and told him about his business, says Hurnaus. The Trivago founder immediately expressed interest in financing – and “four weeks and a few e-mails later” have been the investment. Now Hurnaus wants to benefit from the knowledge of its new shareholders, especially in terms of marketing.
For the future, the founder pays off good opportunities. Next year, his startup plan will grow “by at least 50 percent.” “When we reach our goals, we go to Mallorca with the whole company and have a four-day party and a few workshops,” he says proudly. Three times in a row his co-founders and he would have done that.