Startups to watch

Startups To Watch: Borrow My Doggy

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Chris Apostolou

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Here at Work In Startups, we’re on a mission to champion the best and most exciting startups in the UK. To support this, we’re starting a new blog series highlighting some of the most innovative and fast-growing startups around. Follow us as we interview startup founders and employees across the country and find out more about their goals and ambitions, what the future holds and (for all you startup jobseekers out there looking for the inside scoop) what they look for in a prospective employee.

This week we talked to Rikke and Pippa from Borrow My Doggy a fantastic service uniting people without dogs with people that have dogs and need help. They have made life much more bearable during lockdown for so many people.

Tell us about BorrowMyDoggy! 

BorrowMyDoggy is an online community that connects dog owners with local, trusted do borrowers who are happy to help take care of a pooch for walks, weekends and holidays.

We operate across the UK and Ireland with thousands of new members joining every week. When an owner shares their dog with a local borrower, it’s a win-­win (or woof­-woof) situation for everyone involved:

● Owners have peace of mind that their dog is well taken care of by a trusted borrower

● Borrowers get to enjoy happy doggy time, which they otherwise wouldn’t have

● Dogs enjoy extra exercise, spend less time alone and most importantly receive more love and affection.

How did it all start and what are your goals?

I came up with the idea for BorrowMyDoggy in 2012 when I was looking after my neighbour’s beautiful chocolate Labrador for the day. While enjoying my day with Aston, I thought “there should be a website where dog owners can have their dogs taken care of by people who absolutely adore dogs and miss having a dog in their life.”

All owners need to be away from their pooches sometimes, and there’s often no need to pay for a dog walker when there are lots of people, just like me, who adore dogs but unfortunately can’t have them (due to work, travel etc.), who would love to take care of a dog for free. In addition to this, it would allow owners and doggies to get to know more people locally and spread lots of happiness.

Our aim is to leave ‘Pawprints of Happiness’ on the lives of dogs and people by building local communities where dog-­lovers give a helping hand taking care of local pooches, simply because they love dogs.

What are your values as an ambitious startup?

Our values are focused around being fun, happy, caring and thankful. Our community is at the centre of everything we do at BorrowMyDoggy. We wouldn’t exist without our lovely members and it’s thanks to their feedback, requests and recommendations that the site has evolved in the way it has. 

With your current knowledge and what you’ve learnt so far, is there any advice would you give yourself back when you were just getting started?

You have to be passionate about what you do and believe in the difference that you can make. As an entrepreneur setting up a brand new business, there is so much to learn so just embrace the fact that there will be lots of things that you don’t know and be open to asking questions. Also, always listen to your customers and only develop something that they will love to use. Finally, take an active part in the startup community, which is incredibly inspiring, and always help others whenever you can. 

What is next for BorrowMyDoggy and what are the goals for 2021?

At the moment we are focusing on making BorrowMyDoggy the best it can be for our existing members in the UK and Ireland. Last year we saw the launch of a new app, which we continue to work our tails off on in 2021. We would love to help make a positive difference to as many dogs’ and people’s lives as possible. 

The pandemic has obviously affected a lot of startups both in positive and negative ways, how have you guys dealt with it?

We have been truly ast-hound-ed (as we like to say) by how the BorrowMyDoggy community has pulled together during the pandemic. In the height of the pandemic in 2020 we made the decision to recommend borrowers and owners stop meeting to help reduce the spread of the virus. However we still saw wonderful acts of kindness from our members – from fetching groceries and medication for one another, and borrowers walking dogs for owners that were shielding or vulnerable, to borrowers temporarily rehoming dogs for owners too. 

Here’s most wonderful feedback we received from a BorrowMyDoggy owner

I want to publicly thank my wonderful dog borrower María who has gone way beyond taking Purdey for her exercise while I’m in complete isolation and brought supplies and prescriptions not because I’ve asked but because she has offered unsolicited. There is some connection between dog/animal lovers and generosity of spirit. BorrowMyDoggy has brought such a caring group of people together with its organisation. Thank you.”

As the nation still faces the COVID pandemic we are still advising our community to be responsible and follow their local government guidelines, to ensure that everyone stays safe and minimises the spread of the virus. 

#startup #borrowmydoggy #COVID #ambitious #dogs

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