L.A.-based software developer Adam Pokornicky’s friends all love his pet cavapoo, Maggie. They often ask him to come over—and to bring Maggie. But whenever Pokornicky had to leave town, and he actually needed help with Maggie, suddenly those friends became unavailable.
So he did something about it. With his longtime friend and fellow dog-owner, Dan Joldzic, Pokornicky created DoggyBnB, an app that makes the often logistically nightmarish process of finding pet care—by friends you already know and trust—more efficient. The app's name and model draws some inspiration from Airbnb, but the "Bnb" in this case stands for "Buddies and Boarders." And unlike Airbnb, in which service providers post offers of their services, with DoggyBnB, you are the one doing the posting and you are asking for services.
"Pets are like our kids. We want make sure they’re in good hands when we go away," Joldzic tells Co.Design. "There are enough horror stories about kennels to scare you straight, and many dog owners don’t feel comfortable with them," he explains.
DoggyBnB accesses your contact list and social network, so instead of texting or calling multiple people and pestering them for help, you can put up a single post—called a "Woof"—and collectively ask friends to help you walk, feed, board, or house sit your pet. You can include the dates and times you need, and offer a user-defined cash "reward" or payment. So instead of having to, uh, hound your friends, you can simply wait to see who in your network voluntarily steps up to the plate.
There's also an exciting (for some, cringe-worthy) function called Sniffer—sort of like a Tinder for dogs—that lets you find other pet owners in your area and set up canine playdates. "Like most dog owners, whenever I walk my two dogs"—Biscuit, a dachshund terrier, and Moxie, a mutt—"I tend to run into the same people, but it can be hard to make real connections," Joldzic says. DoggyBnB user profiles show photos of the dog-owner pair, and users can accept (swipe right) or reject (swipe left) potential matches. Ultimately, you can expand your networks of potential sitters and walkers, and let your pup mingle with its own species. Another function, Degrees, lets you view friends, friends of friends, and third connections.
Existing sites for finding pet care include Rover and Doggy Vacay, which both list registered pet care providers in a user's geolocated area. "These will connect you to a stranger for pet care, but they’re still strangers," Joldzic says. Users offering services are vetted by an interview process, but the sites still don’t offer dog owners a deep sense of trust. "We asked people what they thought of those sites and many said they were nervous to use them," Joldzic says. "The most natural path is to ask family, friends, and neighbors for help, but the process is inefficient at the moment."
It's worth a try if you're not keen on what's out there already (and if your friends are lame). "The economy isn’t exactly booming right now, and there are people that can benefit from supplemental income," Joldzic says. "This lets you make some extra cash by helping out a friend and watching a cute little dog."
DoggyBnB launches in June.
[Image: Dog house via Shutterstock]