A New Year & New Chapter for Porter Labs

I kicked off 2024 by stepping into a role that I have, in many ways, worked toward for not just my entire career but really for my entire life. As a natural born leader, strategist, and big picture thinker I’ve always had a penchant for running the show. As a hands-on, detail-oriented person, I have expressed this mostly as a lead operator for numerous startups over the years, running the team and internal day-to-day for Founders and CEOs across industries. I reserved my true, outward facing “chief” energy for personal projects, teaching, and founding a small but successful coworking venture.

When Karthik, Porter Labs’ Founder, suggested that I take the CEO position I was honored that he understood not just my professional capacity to do the job but my personal capability to lead a fledgling company and the people that are so essential to its success. I was touched by the support and enthusiasm I received from our team when we announced this change in leadership for the company.

Coming up from an operational background means that I understand the nuts and bolts of a functional business. At the same time, as an educator and community leader, I have long considered the workplace to be uncharted territory for improving ourselves as individuals and as a society. In today’s world, I believe we have no choice but to live our values and dreams for humanity through our work. What a joy to get to do this with a team of dog lovers! 

For the Love of Dogs – Our Closest Companions

This company was created out of a simple need – to make sure Porter (the dog) had enough engagement while Karthik was busy trying to work. As a dog owner myself I immediately saw the value in the product concept. 

I personally took risks with my career development and work productivity when my pup Luz was young, mainly with the opportunity cost of turning my attention away from my desk to focus on her needs. I knew that training and engaging her extensively would ultimately pay off. And it did. When she passed away last month I was amazed by the outreach of friends and family expressing “best dog ever” sentiments as they learned the news. She really was an incredible companion.

But believe me, she (and I) earned that “best dog” status through dedicated training, at no small cost in time and energy. I did it all by myself but not everyone has the flexibility, insight, patience, and desire that it takes to guide a dog from “wild beastie” status to “perfect pet”. And even then, I lived with a constant question: am I doing enough for my dog? 

Porter Labs is creating technology that not only relieves dog owners from the persistent concern for their dogs’ wellbeing but has the indefatigable ability to shape and train behaviors, autonomously! While dog training professionals provide a vital service, their time is limited and even the best dogs need continued engagement outside of their official training time, especially while we humans are focused on other things, like starting up a new business!

Cultivating a Passionate Community of Dog People

I think it goes without saying that everyone here at Porter Labs is a little crazy about our pets. We are the kind of people who choose dog walks over cocktail hours, and hiking boots over suits and ties (most of the time!) Two of us lost our best friends last year, and in fact, we were in the middle of a Porter Labs pitch competition at the Petcare Innovation conference when I got the sad news that my Luz had passed. Being able to turn to everyone around me and receive the deep, inherent support of other dog enthusiasts spoke volumes to the kind of team we are building here at Porter. 

My main focus in this new role is to create a company culture that harnesses the abundance of patience, care, and joy we have for our pets, and applies that to some of the most innovative tech applications in the world today. Finding that balance of unbridled creativity and targeted productivity within the company, and identifying kindred spirits and genuine supporters of our work in the pet community, the tech industry, and the business world are my primary tasks that lie ahead. 

Already we have met potential investors and industry partners who share our deep passion for training and engaging dogs in new and inventive ways. I mean it completely when I say I get excited and inspired by every conversation about our future. Watching people’s eyes light up when they see our tech in action is what makes me believe wholeheartedly in what we are creating.

When I adopted my dog Luz I was recovering from a difficult cancer journey. I made a commitment to her and to myself that I would do whatever it would take to give her a blissful life. I knew that being the owner of a truly happy, healthy dog would lead me to be happy and healthy too. Today my health is back to excellent and I have a wealth of joyful memories from the time I spent hiking, swimming, exploring, and relaxing with my best friend.

My Vision for Pet Technology   

At the time of this writing our PupStation is still a fledgling device, a bit like a puppy if we’re honest! This young technology consists of a feeder, collar, and various satellites that are networked together as a family of connected hardware. This family of devices are able to give instructions, collect sensory feedback, and dispense food as a reward when the dog they are engaging completes certain tasks. Porter, our namesake and inspiration, plays with his PupStation for hours at a time and it is a joy to witness. 

My own dog used to sit beside me as I worked in the office, loyal and supportive but honestly a bit bored. She would look at me as if to say, can’t I have a task on the computer too? I want to be engaged like you are. What we are creating at Porter Labs provides exactly this: an opportunity for a dog to plug in and learn and play with technology the same way that we do. 

While it may sound a bit futuristic and sci-fi now, it all makes sense to me. If dogs are our closest companions, bred to be our friends and helpers, of course they will follow our evolutionary development. As IoT tech becomes more and more of a staple in our homes it must naturally extend to our pets as well. Our vision at Porter Labs is to bring scientifically backed research and training protocols into the Pet Tech sector, to ensure that new technologies have the absolute best interests of our pets in mind.

Already we are thinking of ways that PupStation can solve existing problems not just for pet parents but for dog trainers too. The high cost of training service dogs may be dramatically reduced with the introduction of good technology, for example. We all know first hand what an important role these animals play for the humans they take care of. We are constantly motivated by the stories we hear from dog lovers, owners, and trainers as well as our colleagues in the Pet Tech sector. We believe that we have yet to realize the maximum potential of our canine counterparts and we are certain that technology will lead us to new discoveries and advancements in the way that we relate to our pets. 

Join us as we look to the future of Pet Tech. Whether you are interested in being part of our team, community, or business ecosystem or if you simply have a heartwarming dog story to share, we’d love to hear from you!

Scarlett, January 2024

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