Buzz Interviews Bret Conkin of k9kooler

Our team story started several years ago, when our founder, Sam Conkin, was traveling on business in his truck with his trusted sidekick spaniel, Missy. Whenever he had to make a stop for a meeting or an errand, he was frustrated with how challenging it was to keep Missy comfortable and safe, given the many premises where no dogs were allowed. He then noticed that often many other dog owners would hit this same roadblock: what to do with pet dogs when you have to leave the car, but you can’t bring them where you have to go? As pet parents, we want to maximize the time we spend with our dogs as a family, which means bringing them along when we go driving. However, we worry about leaving them alone in the vehicle where they may quickly suffer from and even die from heat exhaustion in as few as 6 minutes. We felt there must be a better way.

The options to leave dogs in vehicles for a short period of time were very inadequate. Rolling down windows may compromise the dogs’ and the vehicle’s safety. Marketplace products for keeping dogs at a safe temperature in cars, like cooling mats, scarves, and beer coolers with fans were not effective enough for us. Taking dogs out of the car and tying them outside stores felt insecure. And following some groups’ well-intentioned advice to always leave dogs at home would mean losing out on the feelings of adventure, of togetherness that traveling with our dogs offers us—and what if our dogs have separation anxiety? Our research revealed that this issue also affects working dogs that simply must be transported in cars, like therapy dogs, police canine units, sports dogs, and more.

So, we set out to invent something more practical, more sustainable, more dog- and dog family-friendly—a product that can at once monitor and cool dogs in unattended cars. To date, we have assembled a world-class startup team of professionals representing diverse fields: product design, engineering, software development, marketing, and management. Experts from pet sectors and major market leaders like P&G, Petco, and Kraft Foods, have found it personally meaningful to join our team. As a growing company of change-makers tethered to one another by our love of dogs, we are all contributing our expertise to our positive social impact venture: our soon-to-be-launched product—the k9kooler.