Pet Device Start-Up Strikes Deal With Chuck & Don’s

Anser Innovation's PetChatz device, through which pet owners can communicate with their furry friends remotely and even dispense treats, will be available exclusively at Chuck and Don's Pet Food Outlet stores for four weeks prior to a nationwide launch this fall.

Burnsville-based start-up Anser Innovation has reached an exclusive agreement with Mahtomedi-based Chuck and Don's Pet Food Outlet.

Anser founder and CEO Lisa Lavin confirmed that the company's PetChatz device will be available at all 21 of Chuck and Don's Minnesota and Colorado stores for four weeks prior to a nationwide launch this fall.

PetChatz is a telecommunications platform through which pet owners can communicate with their furry friends remotely from anywhere in the world using an Internet-enabled device. The PetChatz device can even dispense treats and emit comforting smells while owners aren't home.

“We're calling it a greet-and-treat video phone,” Lavin told Twin Cities Business on Friday.

Several months ago, Anser signed an agreement with Perham-based Tuffy's Pet Foods, Inc., on a co-branded treat pack for use with the PetChatz device. Lavin said that Tuffy's products are sold at more than 4,000 pet stores across the country, and those stores would be prime candidates for PetChatz.

Anser will market the device to “pet parents,” about one-third of all pet owners, who spend 50 percent to 66 percent more on their pets than the average animal owner. PetChatz will retail for somewhere between $200 and $300.

Lavin wouldn't say precisely when the device will hit the shelves at Chuck and Don's stores or when the nationwide launch of the device will occur. But she expects to be able to make another big announcement about PetChatz in the coming weeks.

Through device sales and treat-pack royalties, Lavin anticipates that Anser will exceed $50 million in sales in five years.

Twin Cities Business profiled Anser Innovation in its December issue after the company was named general division winner in last year's Minnesota Cup entrepreneurial competition.