Randall Elizabeth Ray adopted her lovable mutt, Shadow, earlier this year and he quickly became her best friend. But she had a hard time finding reliable information about exactly where in her neighborhood she could or could not bring her pup. That’s how PuppyPals, a location-service app that helps dog owners find pet-friendly spots near them, was born.
“I work for a store that is in a very highly populated dog walking area. Unknown to most, we allow dogs in our store,” says Ray. “Day after day I would see people stop and look in the window while walking their pup. This is when I realized that I wasn’t the only one with this problem of where they can and can’t bring their dog with them.”
Learn more about how PuppyPals, currently in iOS, can help bring more clientele to your business, their evolving revenue model, and how Ray discovered more of Atlanta thanks to her four-legged friend.
Are you currently seeking funding?
Currently we aren’t looking for funding as we closed a small seed round of funding from family investors earlier this year. We felt this will help to keep the decisions and equity under better control as we take on new challenges moving forward. We might be open to funding sometime in the next year or so, but for now we’re trying to bootstrap and generate traction.
What’s your pitch to dog owners?
PuppyPals, LLC is aimed at making dog parents lives easier. The PuppyPals App will provide a location service tool showing dog parents all of the dog-friendly venues where their pup can tag along. The goal of PuppyPals is to provide a one-stop shop for the needs of dog parents and their pets; eventually offering additional products and services on the PuppyPals App.
What problem are you solving?
The problem is most dog parents leave their dogs at home because they don’t readily know of verified venues where they can take their pups (and this makes us sad). Even people on-the-go are deterred from running simple errands because it can be a hassle to bring your pooch into an establishment that doesn’t allow dogs. So, the need of dog parents not only knowing where they can bring their dog, but also having peace of mind of knowing that PuppyPal Certified venues are 100% dog-friendly to all breeds and sizes is what we’re focusing on. By creating a community standard everyone can rely on, PuppyPals will make the lives of dog parents and their pups much easier and more enjoyable.
Please describe the market/industry impact:
The market impact of PuppyPals is aimed at increasing local visibility of businesses through our mobile app and “Mark your Territory” stickers found on the front window of venues. PuppyPals will drive more traffic and sales to certified businesses because people feel more comfortable venturing out more often with their pups. PuppyPals venues get the benefit of attracting business that could easily be missed by someone not knowing that their dog is allowed inside, and they have a one up on nearby competitor restaurants that aren’t dog-friendly. PuppyPals App users are impacted by being able to plan ahead knowing where their dog can or cannot tag along. Many dog parents will prefer venues where their pup can tag along.
At initial app launch, in October 2016, it was free. Now from November to February, we will be A/B testing different price points for users and venues, but it will be somewhere in the range of $1.99 – $4.99/Download, and annual fee (TBD) for each PuppyPals Certified Venue.
How’d you get the idea for it?
I adopted my dog, Shadow, when I was new to Atlanta so we explored the city together. Everywhere I can bring him, I want him by my side. I would often search for dog friendly venues and go to places that said they were dog friendly and run into the issue that they weren’t, or not accommodating to people with pets (i.e. Restaurants that allow dogs on the patio but you have to place the order indoors). As annoying as this was, it wasn’t until I started working for a retail store that the idea for PuppyPals came to me.
I hope to eventually have all types of businesses on the PuppyPals app, they will certainly get my business over non-dog friendly venues.
Who are your competitors and how do you stand out?
Bring Fido and Bark Happy are PuppyPals top competitors. PuppyPals stands out namely in two ways: first, because of the upgraded PuppyPals Certified venue listings (identified by the logo) within the app. Essentially, these listings give companies more real estate on the app to appeal to users, eventually incorporating more functionality such as promo codes to get better analytics and traction. Secondly, our “Mark your Territory” stickers in the windows/doors of PPC venues creates a visible community standard that dog owners can quickly find and rely on.
How does ATL weave into your story?
Atlanta is an extremely dog-friendly city. I find more often than not that dogs are allowed many places so I decided I had to get the word out. I came to Atlanta not knowing anyone or the city. I adopted Shadow after 4 months of living here so we really explored the city together. I often joked when people would ask me how I was liking Atlanta, “so far, the dogs parks are great!”