Get to know a Toronto startup: Woof
A stroll in High Park, Bellwoods or The Beaches will confirm the inspiration behind this local startup: we're a city of dog lovers. We're even home to Woofstock, one of the largest dog lovers' festivals in North America.
Launched in the App Store in October, Woof is a free app for iPhone. A social network and mapping tool for dog lovers, Woof allows you create a profile, look for nearby parks, mark your dog's territory on a map and see where other dogs have been, and get stats about your walks. Woof has also partnered with the Ontario SPCA, and will soon be adding features that integrate with the organization's adoption matching program for shelter dogs.
Founded by Dan Seider, David Elsonbaty and Adrian Domanico out of Ryerson's Digital Media Zone incubator, Woof helps dog lovers connect with each other, explore the dog-walkable corners of the city and lets fido leave his virtual paw prints wherever he goes. I recently connected with Seider to find out more about what his team is up to.
What was the inspiration behind Woof?
Woof all started last winter when I was taking my best bud Chuck, a five-year old Golden Doodle, for a walk. As much as I love him, it was late, cold outside and I was holding Chuck's fresh business so I was ready to head home. But Chuck was adamant about getting a better sniff on this one patch of grass. It was in that moment that the idea occurred to me: wouldn't it be cool if we could know what our dogs were smelling?
Every dog wants to know where other dogs have been and who has marked their territory. I thought if we could visualize some of that data, we would be able to have a better understanding of our dogs' relationships and a more intimate connection to them.
Woof is a free app. So how will your company make money?
With nearly 200 million dogs around the world, we feel there are many routes to monetization. But there is one that we're particularly interested in. Once we've reached significant scale, we'd like to develop a smart collar integrated with the Woof platform or partner with a preexisting one. This would allow dog parents to have their dog's walks tracked passively and have a better understanding of their pet's physical well-being.
Who do you consider your competitors in this space?
While there are many apps that cater to dog lover, one key competitor is social networking platform Dogbook. There are also millions of dog profiles on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Each network serves a different purpose. But we feel that nothing out there today really fulfills the needs of passionate dog parents. Woof is all about giving dog lovers a more intimate relationship with their dog and feel better connected to their local dog community.
You've partnered with the Ontario SPCA. What does this partnership entail and what do you hope to achieve?
The mission of this partnership to increase the amount of successful dog adoptions in North America. In an upcoming version of the app we'll be integrated with the SPCA's Meet Your Match program, and anyone will be able to find nearby shelter dogs looking for homes. By answering a few questions, users can be matched based on their lifestyle and personality to find the dog that is right for them. It'll be like eHarmony for adopting a dog.
What else is coming up for Woof?
In addition to integrating with the Meet Your Match program, we've already started working on our next update which includes comments to photos, the ability to add multiple dogs and some design changes that we feel will make the app more engaging. Further down the road, we're looking to facilitate meet-ups for owners in local dog parks.