I got a press release for a new start-up that’s trying to be funded via Fundable: PawSwapper.com, a business that helps pet owners find real homes they can board their pets in while they go on vacation. Sounds a lot like Dog Vacay, no? I thought so, too, but there are a few small differences that may make a big difference.
First, PawSwapper is a lot less posh than Dog Vacay. It’s not for people who spend endless sums of money on their pets, but people who are looking for cheap(er) ways to board their furry best friends, hopefully with reputable people who care about pets, too. Instead of paying people to sit your pet, you board your pet for free and pay PawSwapper a monthly fee of $5.99 or an annual fee of $54.99. On Dog Vacay, it’s a lot more like the AirBnB model; you might pay just as much as you would for boarding your dog at a kennel (the boarder sets the price, with a minimum fee of $15 a night), but it’s about having your dog stay in a home away from home.
Second, unlike Dog Vacay, PawSwapper is for all types of pets and not just dogs. You’ll be able to search a database of members to see what types of animals they currently have in their homes and what types of pets they’re willing to board.
So why would people board another person’s pet for free? PawSwapper.com members can exchange their good deeds with the Confucian values of “Do unto others what you want done unto you” — you’ll also have access to the network for when you go out of town and need a free sitter. But if that’s not enticing enough, members will also get discounts at local pet-related businesses.
I’m all about the underdog (and cat). I love that PawSwapper is offering ways to meet your fellow community pet owner and build trust through trading goodwill. I even kinda love the low-budg video that features the three female founders (woohoo for women entrepreneurs!), who seem like sincere animal lovers with good hearts. But I do wonder about the viability of PawSwapper to be a far-reaching platform that enough people would use and keep the company afloat. The idea of free boarding is awesome, of course, but only if you can really trust the person who is boarding your pet. As with Dog Vacay, there’ll be profiles and opportunities to contact potential boarders, but I wonder whether or not PawSwapper will have enough users to make the service worthwhile. If there’s only one other person in your neighborhood who uses PawSwapper and if s/he doesn’t work out, will it be worth even the paltry $6 a month?
What DogVacay has going for it is it looks fancy, which instills a sense of trust in the people who participate (whether or not that’s to be deserved or not). So far, we can only judge PawSwapper on their video on Fundable and their website which is under construction with some clip art design. Frankly, this doesn’t really make me feel confident that the final product will be up to snuff. I truly hope that if PawSwapper does gets funded, they’ll put more money, time, and care into a very snazzy, very user-friendly product, something that’s on the same par as Dog Vacay. If the platform is not easy to use and pretty to look at, I fear that this business, even if it has a good heart behind it, will not succeed. (It’s sad but true — I mean just look at Pawesome, the ultimate in no-budget, good heart! If we were a real business, well… I probably wouldn’t be writing this post right now.)
But you be the judge. There’s only a few days left for PawSwapper to get funded on Fundable and so far they’re less than halfway to their goal. If you think it’s a good idea that you’d like to see come to life, you can donate to the project here.