Bird Buddy: The Slovenian Kickstarter Phenomenon Transforming the Way We Interact with Nature

Bird watching is the process of studying birds with the naked eye or with an optical device for better visibility. This activity is more of a hobby than a formal scientific method, and the advantage of the hobby is that it is quite cheap and can be done by all walks of life. To find the birds, hobbyists need to be outdoors, often in nature. Bird feeding is another super popular hobby. Over 57 million Americans feed their birds, spending $4 billion on bird food each year. The hobby is also popular in Great Britain. Around 60% of Britons regularly feed the birds in their gardens. Noup, we didn’t made all of these numbers, here is the source.

The Slovenian startup Bird Buddy helps everyone who is interested in the hobby, but can’t go out to see the birds in their vicinity. Using hardware and a smartphone app, users can always see which bird is visiting their smart feeder.

Bird Buddy is a smart bird feeder. It comes with a high-resolution camera and microphone, and is water resistant. The box can be connected via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. A power supply is required for the device to function, which in this case comes as a separate part/module that can be removed.

The hardware is connected to artificial intelligence that recognizes the birds that have been “photographed”. The part where the birds land is a sensor that activates the camera that takes a picture of the newly arrived visitor. The user receives a notification along with a picture of the bird.

To make matters even more interesting, the user receives a badge whenever a new bird lands for the first time on the designated place. 

Startup of the year in Slovenia for 2021

Bird Buddy was founded in 2020 by Franzi Zidar, Kyle Buzzard and Ziga Vrtacic. If you recognize the name Kyle Buzzard, he is the designer of several devices and is mostly likely known for Chromecast.

Bird Buddy’s potential in 2021 was noticed by Startup Slovenia and was soon after named the startup of the year. In the same year, Bird Buddy received an investment from General Catalyst in the amount of 8.5 million dollars. These funds were critical to successfully closing the Kickstarter project. Although the company successfully completed a Kickstarter campaign, hardware prices suddenly skyrocketed in 2021, so there was a danger that they would not be able to ship all the smart birdhouses.

“With the best of intentions, millions of dollars disappear overnight when you’re building hardware,” explained Zidar. “You have to order components, pay taxes, fulfillment, shipping, all that not counting that 2021 was the worst possible year to build hardware, right? Availability was shrinking, prices were fluctuating, we had to have redundant components becasue we weren’t sure which we would be able to get. Shipping costs have risen 6-8 times too. Even shipping in January — we were supposed to ship in September originally — is kind of a miracle.” says Zidar.

New Kickstarter campaign

The startup is currently running a new Kickstarter campaign. This time the focus is on hummingbirds and a specially made feeder. These birds feed on smaller insects and nectar, so the current feeder is not suitable. In addition, there is also a new bird bath with camera, suitable for the summer months. The method of operation is identical for all devices. Birds will land and activate the camera. The camera takes a picture and immediately sends a picture notification to the user.

This time, together with the basic elements in the campaign, a solar roof for the house and a solar roof with a pump for the bathtub are also available.

The price of the camera alone is $135, the entire feeder is $250. At the moment the campaign is at the very beginning, so there are discounts for the first backers.

The Kickstarter campaign still has few days left, but over 10,000 backers have already crossed the minimum threshold of $100,000. Currently the sum of $3.13 million has been raised. The amount is still far from the 4.2 million euros that were collected in the first campaign, but nevertheless, it shows that Bird Buddy is an awesome project and is showing some great success with every item they promote!

Btw, Bird Buddy also has a Bird Meme Generator with some pretty fun content.

Lastly, enjoy some photos taken with their product:

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