After yet another guy lied to Casey Isaacson about loving dogs through a dating app, her sister Leigh Isaacson realized that these matchmaking apps had a serious gap — none of the popular apps allow you to filter to only see “dog lovers.”
Leigh’s background in investigative journalism sent her down a rabbit hole of data to find out what type of market was available for this service. She found a sizable one — 55 percent of single adults in the U.S. are pet owners, and the number is growing. “The majority of people that are currently single are already pet owners, making it a big part of their compatibility issues. This was definitely a good opportunity for us,” she says.
Casey and Leigh came together to create Dig, a dating app for dog enthusiasts and owners. The app launched in just the New York Metro area before Valentine’s Day this year; now, they are in 48 states and formally launching 20+ cities by the end of 2018.
The New Orleans-based startup shows users five available single people near you each day — you can “dig,” “really dig,” or “pass” on the profiles. Once two users ‘dig’ each other, the app suggests dog-friendly locations near you to spark date ideas.
The app even provides resources for dog owners like daily deals at local dog-friendly businesses and tips from veterinarians, all sponsored by businesses as a source of revenue.
You don’t have to be a dog owner to be in the app — it’s open to dog lovers currently without a furry best friend. You can also filter by dog size for compatibility.
To promote the app in new cities and increase visibility, the sisters tapped into their marketing and event planning background to throw dog-friendly launch parties around the country. They partner with local dog-friendly businesses and adoption agencies, explains Leigh. Think free treats, free vet checkups and even free photography for you and your pup, while the startup signs up singles.
They’re using their platform to give back, as well — all the dogs used in their social media promotion are currently available for adoption in New Orleans animal shelters.
While this is CEO Leigh’s first foray into entrepreneurship, she used her experience in journalism and non-profit management to help scale her idea alongside Chief Creative Officer Casey. Aside from the education they earned from New Orleans The Idea Village accelerator program, Leigh attributes the quick scaling of their business to her previous media training.She often sees startup founders struggle to talk to the media or pitching the wrong things.
Now, she teaches a media training course locally to give back to the tech community.
“Pitch a story, don’t pitch your business. Take the time to figure out what is newsworthy about what you’re pitching. Consider these points from the book ‘The Elements of News’: timeliness, proximity, prominence, and consequence. Don’t forget to build your press kit.”
As for their hardest lesson? Not bringing on a technical founder at the very beginning of their build out. The team outsourced their development a few times with mediocre results and now has brought on a “stellar developer” to flesh out features.
“It’s a little contradictory, but don’t take too much advice. It can be very overwhelming to learn what you’re supposed to ask. You’re learning so much about starting a business — figure out what you know the least of and find someone that complements that.”
“We could’ve saved a lot of headaches,” says Leigh.
The startup, previously bootstrapped, is preparing to fundraise a $750,000 seed round to make the app more robust, finish Android development, and scale into new cities.