Play 9 Ltd in Hurstpierpoint is releasing the Roolo, a ‘uniquely shaped’ and ‘super durable’ rolling treats dispenser.
Managing director Lee Bridges, 37, and business development manager John Allard, 39, said the Roolo helps train dogs by engaging them in scent-work, problem solving and using all of their intellectual and physical abilities.
John said: “The idea with the toy is that it’s hyper-stimulating, it’s rewarding and it slows down their feeds so they’re not inhaling their meals.”
Lee, whose wife is a dog trainer, added that the Play 9 team wanted to create something to help pets improve their ‘dog IQ’.
“The most pleasing thing is how well it works,” said John. “We've seen it with dogs where it takes them a few minutes to learn it and then once they’ve got it they’re massively into it. It’s quite a proud moment.”
Essentially, the Roolo is a ball with triangular sides and different sized holes. Owners load it with treats and give it to their dog to play with.
John said: “We came up with this unique shape and the way it rolls. It kind of self-propels. We started by 3D printing prototypes for it and we tested that with loads of dogs. The feedback we got was really good.”
Lee explained that it took about six months from coming up with the idea to completion, adding: “We’ve never worked so fast or so hard in our lives, it's been a bit of a blur to be honest.”
He said: “We've been working round the clock just juggling so many things. It’s like jumping off a cliff and building the parachute on the way down.”
The team used their own funds, made prototypes, found a good factory in China, built up an online community of around 7,000 dog lovers and got the design patented.
Lee said: “Now we’re in pre-launch mode with our launch coming up on October 17.”
He said they are currently talking with two ‘really big’ pet store chains with the hope of selling their Roolo to them. But they said the product’s initial launch will be on Kickstarter. People can visit play9.co.uk and sign up to the Play9 VIP Club to be notified by email when the Roolo is ready to order. When people get the email they can click the link to join the company on Kickstarter and choose which Roolo offer they would like. People can follow the project at www.facebook.com/play9world too.
The team are also throwing a face-to-face party for people in their community on October 19.
Lee said: “A lot of our testers were people that we’d found by posting online, asking ‘do you have a dog?’ and ‘are you up for testing a new dog toy?’ so all of those people we wanted to do a big thank you to.”
He said: “The reason were launching on Kickstarter is because it allows us to generate a bit more buzz in that centre. Then obviously if we hit our goal then we have a successful pledge round on there and it just gives us a bit more of a safety net to be able to order the next batch of stock.”