The pet services industry has turned into a nearly $6 billion dollar business, with pet owners spending more and more to make their furry family members health. clean and happy. Busy dog moms and dads are willing to shell out dough for a dog walker — but they often experience issues of inexperienced folks looking to make a quick buck, or companies requiring you to book far advance.
The founders of ATDC Accelerate company PupWalkr, Alex Han and David Choi, recognized this when they adopted two greyhounds — but help just wasn’t ideal. PupWalkr brings peace of mind to pet owners by helping them connect with pre-vetted dog walkers and sitters on-demand. Yes, last minute. Plus, they provide you with real-time multimedia updates so you can brag to your co-workers about your four-legged friend.
Hype spoke with the PupWalkr team, both Georgia Tech graduates, about how they are driving innovation in the pet walking market.
Year/Date Founded: May 2015
What’s your elevator pitch?
PupWalkr brings peace of mind to busy professionals who own pets by connecting them to vetted, high-quality dog walkers (“Walkrs”) and sitters. We are creating a cohesive platform for the highly-fragmented pet services industry and ensuring a quality experience for pets who can’t follow their owners to work and providing an engaging experience for the owners who can’t bring them. We connect our providers to pet parents who want the peace of mind knowing that their pet’s needs are well taken care of during the work day or while away on a trip. Owners can instantly book an appointment on pupwalkr.com and simultaneously have their provider and time slot be guaranteed.
What problem are you solving?
Traditional services are hard to book, do not process in real time, and do not support flexible schedules. Owners often have to go through multiple exchanges via email/phone to book appointments and are penalized for last minute requests. Existing on-demand services have a similar lag between when a booking is made and when the visit is serviced which results in visits not taking place at the owner’s desired time.
Also, with a highly fragmented market of over 25,000 businesses nationwide, it is difficult for owners to trust different providers and know that they are insured and bonded. PupWalkr is providing a trusted platform that can ensure reliable service with on-demand walks.
Please describe the market/industry impact.
There are over 75 million households in the US with pets. The amount spent on dog walking and sitting alone was $1 billion in 2016, and this is expected to grow as pet ownership continues to rise and the trend of pets becoming family members increases. Since PupWalkr became available in the summer of 2015, the platform has powered almost 12,000 walks in Atlanta with 1,000 walks in Feb 2017 alone. We believe that as PupWalkr continues to grow, we will be able to add additional pet and home services, leveraging the strong relationships that we have with our customers.
What’s your revenue model?
We charge on a per-walk basis, averaging $14/appointment as we offer bundles of 5, 10, and 20 appointments, providing bulk discounts for larger bundles.
How’d you get the idea for PupWalkr?
As David and I were working in our corporate jobs, we decided to adopt 2 greyhounds. We very quickly realized with our long hours and dynamic schedules that we needed a service to help care for our dogs. Everything we found was very inflexible, and we found it hard to trust the people that could be more flexible as they were just individuals. We figured that there were many working professionals out there who were running into the same problem. So, we sat down one day, did our research, modeled out how we thought an on-demand service like this could run, and started PupWalkr! We really wanted to make it easier for everyone to own a dog and have peace of mind knowing that it will always be cared for!.
Who are your competitors and how do you stand out?
We stand out from traditional services as they can not handle on-demand requests and actually penalize customers for any last minute changes; we stand out from other pet marketplaces as they are also not geared towards on-demand requests. They can match customers with providers, but do not structure their platform in a way to allow for instant online bookings. They also do not standardize the service that is provided; lastly, we stand out from other on-demand services as they are unable to guarantee a provider and time slot at the time of booking.
There is a lag as the service looks for a provider to match and often times will not find a match until an hour or two later. Our platform is the only one that instantly confirms a provider and an appointment time — at the time of booking. Also, our service is uniquely engaging as our providers are trained to deliver live multimedia updates (picture/video) during each walk which allow our customers to feel like they are part of the walk. Our customers love the pictures they get and have even framed them!
How does ATL weave into your story?
Both founders were raised around Atlanta, went to school at Georgia Tech, and worked in businesses in Atlanta. We believe in this city and have seen the growth and transformation that Atlanta has been through in just the last 5 years alone. We’ve seen the startup community here flourish and believe that Atlanta will be the hub for innovation in the southeast in the coming years.
Are you hiring?
We are currently in the market for a technical co-founder to join our team as well as full-stack developers and a marketing professional.