You live in a big city, you’re eco-conscious and don’t need to own your own car—but your pooch has an upcoming vet appointment. For most, this means catching a ride with a friend, sticking the poor dog in a bag to small hop on public transit, gambling on using Uber or Lyft—or worse, having to rent a car. For many urban pet owners, these realities make pet ownership more of a hassle than it needs to be.
Fortunately, New York Founder Institute portfolio company SpotOn has the perfect solution: ride sharing for people and pets. Led by Founder & CEO Aparna Srinivasan, along with her pup Krishna (and a team of humans), SpotOn allows pet owners, regardless of size or type of dog, to hail a ride to wherever they need to go in New York.
New York City is certainly pet-friendly, but getting around with pets can still be a hassle. For example, the subway requires a dog to be in a bag. For large dogs, owners have attempted to skirt the rules by essentially creating bag-looking jumpers—but ultimately, this policy forces pet owners into use ride-sharing apps. And if you think finding an Uber or Lyft with a dog by your side is easy, consider the countless articles and posts detailing how even those with service animals are denied rides, which goes against legislation protecting people with disabilities, have struggled with ride-sharing.
According to CEO Srinivasan,
It was very difficult to get a ride hailing car when I had both [dogs] with me, or even one of them. I was in LA, and I was like, ‘There has got to be a better way to do this.’ And I talked to other pet owners and drivers, and I realized there are some drivers that will take you, and there is definitely need, because obviously I travel with Krishna a lot - going to the vet, going on a plane, and it is that much easier knowing you have that transportation, to go to where you want to go, taken care of.
This policy also results in loss of revenue for both the drivers and ride sharing companies. According to the New York Economic Development Corporation, there are 1.1 million pets or around 600k dogs and 500k cats in NYC. Specifically, this translates to nearly one pet for every three households. Combine these statistics with the already existing New York ride-sharing market, where around nearly 600k rides are taken each day, and it has created the perfect opportunity for SpotOn to fill in the gap.
Dogged MoM Growth
And filling the gap they are. To date, SpotOn is seeing month-over-month growth of more than 35%. The company has more than 10,000 active drivers, and even has NYC taxis available to book through their platform. Not only is SpotOn offering rides directly to consumers, but they are working closely with local companies, too. Early on, SpotOn scored a deal with both Google and WeWork, to offer the company perk of pet-friendly transportation for their employees—and the team has built on this B2B momentum, adding on more partner companies.
Like other ride-hailing apps, SpotOn works exactly the same way, but has several other benefits for pets. For example, they have the right seat belts that allow you to properly secure an animal; their seats will have covers on them; they also offer pet carriers. And you can, of course, track the ride, too. This last feature is particularly useful for a new solution that SpotOn is testing out: allowing pet parents to transport their pets without actually being in the vehicle with them. Srinivasan explains,
We are trying to talk to our customers, our vet partners, our business partners, and finding what else would you like to see from us. And it kept coming back, ‘Hey, can you drop a pet off without the owner actually being there? Can you help us, as a daycare, bring us more dogs or cats to our facility?’ and we thought about it, and we wanted to make sure that we did it in a safe way and we are currently testing it out.
SpotOn also goes the extra mile to ensure the transportation experience is ideal for both pet parents and their pets. In addition to requiring a TLC permit for drivers, they are all run through an Animal Cruelty database, to ensure they will take great care of fluffy and mittens. The company plans to roll out to LA, Chicago, and Seattle in the future.
Graduates of the Founder Institute are creating some of the world's fastest growing startups, having raised over $950M in funding, and building products people love across over 185 cities worldwide.
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