Are you missing a dog in your life? U.K. based BorrowMyDoggy is doing its best to bring dog lovers together. There are many dog owners who cannot devote all the time they want to their dogs due to their hectic lifestyle. Again, there are dog lovers who cannot afford to keep a dog for the same reason but can make out some time to care for others’ doggies.
BorrowMyDoggy is all about loving dogs. Why leave your cutest companion at home all alone when you are busy? Instead, meet other dog lovers who have time to take your dog for a walk or play with it. You might have not been aware, but your dog loves to make friends and spend his/her time playing and woofing around. Its always so busy “spreading pawprints of happiness”.
The story begins on a beautiful day in July,2012′, with Aston, the founding doggy. One of the founders was contacted by a neighbour who was looking for anyone who would be willing to take care of his dog while he is off for a day’s time. Aston didn’t wish to be indoors, rather she was happy to take a stroll in the park, be a guest at a garden party and enjoyed every moment of making new friends. That’s when the founding party realised that there are many people out there who wants to spend time with dogs, take care of them and would look after the dogs really well in the absence of their owners. They decided to bring the dog-lovers-n-owners and dog-lovers on one platform, and make those furry tails wag a little more!
The founding pack are all dog lovers- Rikke Rosenlund, Les Cochrane, and ofcourse the story maker- Aston, named after ‘Aston Martin’ because her owner’s father was an F1 driver! She is a social dog and is the lead in the founding pack!
StartupsFM was delighted to get in touch with founder Rikke Rosenlund and know more about BorrowMyDoggy.
SFM: BorrowMyDoggy was founded on a beautiful day in July, 2012 when our founder was asked to take care of “Aston” for a day. That sounds really interesting. Could you share your starting journey with us?
R.Rosenlund: As you say, the BorrowMyDoggy concept was born on a sunny day in July last year, when I was looking after my neighbour’s dog. It worked out great for all of us. I spent the day taking care of Aston (a very cute brown labrador), and my neighbour’s mind was at ease knowing that his dog was being watched by someone who really cared for her instead of being stuck at home alone. It was then that I recognised the gap in the market that BorrowMyDoggy could fill connecting dog owners with local borrowers for walkies, playdays, sleepovers and holidays. This would make both people (owners/borrowers) happy, and give dogs lots of extra playtime and ear ruffles from borrowers who love dogs.
From there, I told a friend about my idea and he recommended that I go to the Lean Startup Machine to pitch the idea and learn startup methodology. It was at the Lean Startup Machine that I met my soon to be co-founder, Les. We have very different backgrounds as Les is a Designer & full stack web lead developer specialising in high-traffic web sites; and I have had a mixture of business development and marketing experience, working for mainly large companies. We have both done charity work ranging from disaster relief, to mentoring kids from various backgrounds and volunteering at the RSPCA. We both believe you can- and should make a difference to other peoples’ lives.
We spent the weekend at the Lean Startup Machine conducting customer research to validate our idea and by day 3 we already had 85 people signed up and many of them had submitted the loveliest profiles.
SFM:How do you think BorrowMyDoggy is going to make doggies have a better life? What are some of the key aspects that you follow in order to ensure that the doggies are handed over to “pet friendly” people?
R.Rosenlund: When owners sign their dog up to BorrowMyDoggy, it provides them with an alternative to kennels or leaving their dog home alone. Our service connects dog owners and their dogs with local borrowers for walks, playday, sleepovers and happy holidays. Research has shown that leaving dogs home alone can have a detrimental effect on their health and in some extreme cases, even lead to depression. We believe dogs deserve the best life possible, and who better to help care for your dog, than someone who loves dogs, just as much as you do – who willingly gives up their free time, for the love of spending time with man’s best friend?
Everybody who signs up to BorrowMyDoggy, must go through our verification process which includes telephone and address confirmation. We encourage all users to put as much information in their profiles as possible, including photos of themselves/their dog. When initial contact is made between owner and borrower, we recommend that they get to know each other over email before meeting for the ‘Welcome Woof’, which is the meet & greet session where all parties get to know each other. After the first meetup we recommend, the borrower, owner and the dog meet up several more times, and for the owner to visit the home of the borrower with the dog. The doggy should only be left alone with the borrower once everyone is comfortable, including the pooch.
SFM:What makes BorrowMyDoggy different from other pet friendly communities? What is the uniqueness of this “paw-some” site?
R.Rosenlund: It is free to sign up to BorrowMyDoggy and users pay an annual membership which also covers the cost of their verification. Once this initial payment has been made, all users have full access to the site and its services. Borrowers are not paid for their time when they look after the pooch; they are doing it for the love of our four legged furry friends. All of our lovely users have signed up to BorrowMyDoggy to help spread “Pawprints Of Happiness” on the lives of people and dogs.
SFM:Do you only connect Doggy borrowers and lenders or do you stay as an active member of the entire process? As in, do you keep track as to whether the doggy is safe in the hands of the borrower etc.?
R.Rosenlund: BorrowMyDoggy provides a platform for dog owners and borrowers to connect and although we are not actively involved in their communication, we love receiving feedback from our users and have set questions we ask to hear how our users found the service and the process. It is vital for us to track the process and get this feedback as our customers’ needs dictate the direction in which we grow BorrowMyDoggy from being a young start-up pup into the pawfect company! BorrowMyDoggy exists to make a difference to the lives of dogs and people, so users’ opinions are crucial.
SFM: Which are some of the locations you cater to in the UK?
R.Rosenlund: BorrowMyDoggy is currently active across the whole of the UK, but thanks to popular demand, we are looking to expand into other areas in the near future. So watch this space!
SFM: What are some of your future plans with BorrowMyDoggy?
R.Rosenlund: Our main aim is to spread ‘Pawprints of Happiness’ on the lives of people and dogs, so everything we have planned is with this objective in mind. We are constantly growing and evolving as per our customers’ demands and we will continue to do so to add as much value to the service, to as big an audience, as possible. We have a lot of pawsome ideas of how we can do this.
SFM: How was it like starting up in the UK? Any advice you would like to share for the startups out there?
R.Rosenlund: BorrowMyDoggy has received an incredible welcome from our lovely users and the media,and we are so thankful for this. Equally, the startup community has been hugely helpful. It is such a sharing and open community filled with incredibly generous and knowledgeable people to whom we are extremely grateful. I think it is key that you get to know people in the industry very early on in order to get advice when you need it, but also help where you can.
My advice would be to do something that you are passionate about and surround yourself with other passionate people who share your vision. Ideally be in a team where you have different skills and strengths, so you complement each other.
Also, before you start to spend a lot of time and energy, be sure there is an appetite for the service that you are trying to provide. So find something that will delight people and add value to their lives. Finally, and arguably most important, make sure you enjoy the journey!