On-demand pet services are not uncommon — earlier this year, on-demand dog-walking app Wag raised $300 million from SoftBank. But in a crowded market, Atlanta startup PupWalkr has found a way to differentiate itself, by adding a B2B vertical to their business model and partnering with apartment complexes to provide dog walking as a resident amenity.
“We started three and a half years ago, and we’ve been a direct to consumer only business until November of last year,” says co-founder David Choi. “That’s when we were approached by the Anthem on Ashley complex. It was a lease up — new apartments that have no residents and strive to fill up the units very quickly.” The Old Fourth Ward apartment complex is a Matrix property.
Atlanta’s real estate boom, driven in large part by sprawling apartment complexes, can be seen in its ever-changing skyline. Roughly 11,800 new apartments were projected to hit the Atlanta metro last year — a 40 percent increase over the year before.
Apartment managers are having a hard time differentiating themselves from the other apartment complexes down the street, shares Choi. Adding PupWalkr as an amenity for new residents can help the complexes stand out in a sea of standard buildings.
The app, founded by Choi and Alex Han, only provides pre-vetted dog walkers and sitters for its customers, and also allows them to receive real-time multimedia updates for peace of mind.
Following success in their first building, they will be launching the service at Millworks in West Midtown.
“We have a good understanding now of the people that want our service and how we are going to access those B2C customers,” says Choi. “The direct-to-consumer side is still growing and we have a management team that oversees the day-to-day operations. Alex and I have been pushing a lot for the B2B side since we already knew we wanted to go into this market.”
For the lease up properties trying to fill capacity quickly, PupWalkr charges the complex a flat fee and they offer the amenity to residents for free. For those complexes past the lease up phase, PupWalkr offers residents a heavily discounted rate.
“Everyone that has done business in B2C and B2B know that they are completely different things [from a customer acquisition standpoint]. Matrix Residential, both a management company and a builder, have been a really good partner,” says Choi.
“But what helped us get traction was our three previous years of direct-to-consumer track record. We had already partnered unofficially with a lot of their locations. They already knew everything about our business, leading to very little vetting in the end. For Anthem, when they wanted this amenity, they already knew us.”