Dog care on-demand

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Co-founder Chris is a great dog parent, but needs help from time to time, especially at the end of his workday. We couldn't find a single dog walker in SF who didn't require pre-arrangements and long commitments.
@chug2k Hey Charles and thanks for your submission. Tell me how do you plan to satisfy both sides of this marketplace? More specifically where are these dog walkers coming from?
Hey Sean! Thanks for the question. One great thing about starting with an on-demand marketplace is that we can focus on growing our customer base first. As we get more customers who are excited by the convenience and great service from Fetch, we can scale up on our walker base. We’ve met a lot of great dog walkers already who are excited about the idea, both at local dog parks and on Craigslist. (There were 59 SF Bay Area Dog Walker postings on Craigslist yesterday alone.) We also plan on talking to the most highly rated dog boarders on DogVacay and Rover, which are peer-to-peer dog boarding marketplaces.
@chug2k Just to confirm, you're starting SF only at the moment?
@Percival For now, yup. We have a few people in the Peninsula/South Bay/East Bay who are interested, and we'll get to them soon.
Love the idea, but it's tough when dealing with the things people care about the most. Put another way, it's not surprising Uber for babysitting hasn't taken off yet and Care.com is facing pushback for its scandal (http://www.hlntv.com/article/201...). One person's opinion: I suspect you need something more than a rating as a trust mechanism--not for the times things will go right (most of the time)--but for the times thing go wrong. A mechanism like Hinge (eg mutual friend / connection validation) will go a long way to helping this take off I think.
@borker if it wasn’t tough, it wouldn’t be as fun to solve. =) We actually first started out with dog sitting, but found there was a much higher barrier to entry when it came to trust. I can only imagine how tough it must be for UrbanSitter and Care! (UrbanSitter does seem to be doing pretty well, by the way). After looking at our data and sending out more surveys, we thought dog walking would be a much better way to ease into the market. We walk dogs around the neighborhoods that their owners are already familiar with. We’re looking for additional ways to build trust. One really interesting insight we got from dog owners is that when their regularly-scheduled sitter is out of town, they tend to go with people who are friends with their sitter over sitters their own friends use! So we hope to make our dog walkers all feel like they’re part of the same community. Another key trust-builder is familiarity with the neighborhood - our data shows people trust walkers who walk dogs near them. So we’re hoping to make that part of the “trust” system as well!
This is interesting. How are you different from Swifto and how can you catch up? They've raised a Series A.. My wife is a Rover dog sitter. She frequently gets customers who just want to drop off their dog for a few hours to play and usually a same-day request. So I get the emotional side of wanting this service. Perhaps you could explore that need instead.
@SHERM8N Yeah, Swifto raised 2.5m! While there's some overlap, we're actually taking a completely different approach. I have some some experience with marketplaces from building fitbookr.com, a marketplace for personal fitness trainers. Two of the biggest challenges I hit there were disintermediation (people going around your site) and scheduling. Scheduling with service providers can be tough. They don't always like using online tools and keeping their calendars up to date. But when you get them do that, it quickly becomes cheaper AND easier to just pay/talk with the person directly. This is really bad: your product is now a tax on both user experience AND cost. This is much less of an issue with on-demand services - trying to call twenty different dog walkers to see if one's available is no bueno. Which brings me to the second point - we've heard similar feedback about last minute bookings from our DogVacay friends! Their poor customers are already stressed out about their change in plans, but now are dealing with the uncertainty of asking around for their pet. Our larger goal at Fetch is to provide peace of mind whenever, wherever you are, because you know you always have someone to take care of your pet. Some people are lucky enough to have family or friends that they can rely on to take care of their dogs in a pinch. We want to extend that peace of mind to everyone. =)
Beyond potential partnerships with other doggy startups what are your user acquisition plans?
@Percival We’ve had pretty good response from Craigslist, so we’re definitely going to keep that up. We’ve also had really positive feedback from tech professionals, so we’re working hard on getting the word out at companies! Not just our friends, either - we’ve been meeting them mostly at the local dog parks. It’s nice that we know where lots of potential customers hang out. We’re also working on partnering up with local dog businesses such as daycares and grooming salons, and getting them to refer us when someone calls about getting a dog walker right away. We have a cute little business card that has a picture of Rolo, Chris’ bulldog, sitting in a little red wagon.
Why do you want to join the 500 program and what do you hope to get out of it?
@Percival Aside from the standard mentorship that 500 provides, we’re actually excited about being part of a group of excited, enthusiastic founders. Both @kungfoox and myself were solo founders for a while, and it definitely gets tough to keep the energy level high. Working together is way better, and we think being together with other startup founders would make it even better. We want to keep the energy up!
@chug2k Yea, working alone sucks.
@chug2k Sounds good and yes we are fans of 2 founder teams. The journey is long and tough, you need a partner to get through it.