Having a dog is one of life’s greatest joys, and yet finding someone to take care of your favorite pet can be quite a hassle.
Rover, a new startup, makes it easy to find local dog sitters or dog walkers right from the website or mobile app. You can read reviews, view profiles and message potential dog walkers through the app, then pay directly.
It makes a last-minute vacation or late night at work much less stressful, since you know your dog is taken care of.
The idea for Rover came about when founder Greg Gottesman was keeping his dog at a high-end boarder and realized that others would be willing to take care of dogs for much less, if only he could find out who they were. After Rover won first place at the 2011 Startup Weekend in Seattle, the business became a reality.
In just a few years, Rover added 1.5 million pet parents, pet sitters and dog walkers, demonstrating the power of the startup’s network. Millions of nights will be booked in 2016 alone, according to Philip Kimmey, Rover’s co-founder and director of software development.
As is usually in the case with network-based startups, the biggest challenge for Rover is making sure that people know it exists.
“Many potential customers don’t currently search for a commercial solution,” Kimmey told Opportunity Lives.
One of the best marketing tools appears to be word-of-mouth, as people share their great experiences with the app. Additionally, Rover has a complex set of algorithms that reward great sitters, which makes sure that frequent dog-sitters are recognized for their work.
Being a dog-sitter is a rewarding experience for people who want a dog but travel often or have a dog they want to socialize more. Zach Williams, a frequent Rover dog-sitter in the Washington, D.C.-area, has watched more than 50 different dogs. “I’d like to have 100 dogs of my own, but that’s not feasible,” Williams told Opportunity Lives. “Instead, I have numerous dog ‘nieces and nephews’ from around my neighborhood who get very excited every time they see me.”
When Williams heard about Rover from friends who had two dogs of their own and frequently took on additional “Rover dogs,” he knew he had to try it out. His beagle, Annie, had a traumatic youth and was attacked by another dog in 2010. But Rover has helped Annie with her nervousness, as she learns to interact with dogs of all personalities.
“Having other dogs over has really helped her in learning that other dogs aren’t threatening,” said Williams.
One of the coolest new features of the Rover app is Rover Cards, a new dog-walking technology launched in Washington, D.C. and across the country.
“Rover Cards are the first location-based dog walking technology that allows dog owners to select a dog walker or sitter at a rate they prefer, then receive a detailed report once the walk is completed,” said Kimmey. “Our new Rover Cards provide pet parents visibility, and puts everything at sitters’ fingertips so they can simply focus on caring for dogs and providing exceptional customer experiences.”