It was bound to happen in the lifestyle capital of Canada, of course. GoFetch is a new startup launching in Vancouver this month that connects dog-walkers with dog owners to make sure our four-legged friends get their appropriate level of fresh air and exercise while the owners are off at yoga, Zumba, or toiling away at the office to pay for all the pet food (and walks, apparently).
The mobile app offers an on-demand marketplace to match the two sides, taking a fee from sellers of $5.99 and letting dog walkers set their own prices. But for co-founders Wilson Cross and Paul Ratchford, beyond the simplicity of the pricing, convenience and security are key. “The nature of successful marketplaces is strangers doing business with strangers. GoFetch network makes sure trust and safety measures are put in place,” said Cross.
He notes that trust and safety are essential for this marketplace to work – and that walkers using the GoFetch platform are background-checked with a personal interview. “We use the same background check firm as Uber. And in addition, dog owners are able to rate their dog walkers on a 5-star scale.” One added bit of reassurance: each dog walk is insured up to $1 million.
The dog-walking industry is worth $907 million in revenue just in the USA. As such, there seems to be a lot of upside to working in an informal marketplace that currently lacks a true market leader. “The active Vancouverite, the young professional, they have their yoga, spin class or what have you,” Cross said. “When I talk to people about GoFetch, they’re more excited, the more millennial and professional they are.” On the other side, Vancouver has a lot of casual workers and part-timers who are looking to earn a few more dollars on the side — which makes it an ideal test market for the company.
While other dog-walking apps take a cut of what each dog walker makes, GoFetch differentiated with that straight $5.99 fee – and in addition, lets the walkers charge what they like, up to $100 per hour. Why a maximum? “If you’re booking a dog walk at the last minute and don’t recognize in advance it was a $250 walk – well, we just want to get away from that pain point.” He pointed out Uber’s surge pricing that has occasionally caught riders off guard, noting that he wanted to avoid any similar unpleasant surprises and keep it a positive experience.