Wearable technology to provide comfort to your pooch from your mobile device
Korawai is a local wearable tech start-up with a vision of comfort through connectivity for those who can’t seek help themselves.
A simple wearable garment and innovative technology may soon allow pet owners to alleviate their pets’ anxiety or stress by providing personalised comfort through mobile connectivity.
Fiona Taimana’s passion for science, technology, and bringing comfort to those who can’t help themselves gave birth to the idea of digital pet comfort and planted the seeds for the wearable technology start-up, Korawai.
Korawai was selected to participate in Kōkiri 2021, the national kaupapa Māori business accelerator programme run by Te Wānanga of Aotearoa from its business and innovation hub, Te Ahikōmako – Centre of Māori Innovation & Entrepreneurship. Joining Fiona is her husband and business partner, John Taimana (Ngā Puhi, Te Kawerau-a-Maki), and leading technology researchers from Augmented Human Lab, Juan Pablo Forero and Sachith Muthukumarana.
Fiona started her Masters in Commercialisation and Entrepreneurship (Business and Innovation) at the University of Auckland and was connected with the Augmented Human Lab for her final technology project.
Then, when Covid-19 came along, Fiona finished working in the travel industry and bought a dog, Kora.
Dogs often experience anxiety or stress in situations such as fireworks, thunderstorms, travel, and often it happens when they are home alone.
Fiona says, “A dog can’t ask for help or comfort when they’re distressed. They shake and get upset but they are reliant on their owners. What we want to do is bring them comfort through technology.”
At the beginning of this year, John and Fiona decided to partner together to pursue her business idea. Connecting to their joint Māori tikanga, the couple have created an inspirational space for young Māori innovators at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute, while developing a unique offering in the growing global pet tech and pet care market.
John Taimana (Ngā puhi) along with wife Fiona Taimana and friends Sachith Muthukumarana and Juan Pablo Forero.
Juan Pablo Forero
The proven business acceleration processes used during the 12-week Kōkiri programme have helped the team strengthened their beliefs about their vision and their abilities as a team through the feedback they have received.
Through the structured sequence of noho wānangas, Korawai have built a foundation to solidify and strengthen their business to set them up for success after the programme.
“Kōkiri provided us with a foundation to realise our vision from a multi-dimensional perspective which comes from the Māori kaupapa led approach – the spirit, the whanau, the relationships, the care. It’s solidified and strengthened us so that when we leave, we’ve got a better chance of standing.”
“Aoteaora and Māori is all about being authentic and with that there is kaitiakitanga around protecting our place. What John and I have done is created this international connectedness with Korawai. We’ve incorporated new New Zealanders who didn’t understand Te Ao Māori, but who share the same values, and Kōkiri has really embraced that as part of the innovation process.”
“Through Sachith and Juan Pablo’s way of thinking, it adds even more value to what we are doing and how we can inspire young Māori to invent things in the world class space.”
After completing Kōkiri, the team are looking to get pre-seed funding to finalize their prototype and will apply for funding from Callahan Innovation to bring young Māori graduates alongside with them as interns.