Based out of Santa Monica, California, Dog Vacay has all the bare bones for a successful startup—find a niche need inspired by a personal story, develop a strong and unique business model and execute your idea well and good.
DogVacay began with Aaron Hirschhorn and his wife leaving their dogs in a kennel during a weekend away from home. They returned to a hefty $1,400 bill and a stressed-out, "traumatized" dog.
Aaron knew there had to be another option for pet care. So, he and his wife began posting on Yelp, offering pet-sitting services, and within eight months they'd raked in over $35K.
Knowing that they must have been onto something good, they developed a website and recruited sitters to post on their platform. Before they knew it, the site had taken off.
DogVacay now features sitters in over 3,000 cities across the U.S. and Canada, offering services in dog sitting, daycare, walking and grooming.
But Hirschhorn knows that success like this doesn't just happen by chance. He accredits what makes a successful startup to four major components, which all stem from the idea of taking your online business and making it accessible offline.
Hirschorn's 4 keys to success are:
1. Add value
DogVacay only accepts under 20 percent of applicants to its site. The company also sends text updates to customers while their pets are being watched and commits to a 24-hour customer service line.
2. Convey trust
DogVacay encourages potential clients to meet with their potential sitters face-to-face before an appointment is set.
3. Partner locally
DogVacay will hold frequent community events with local rescue shelters and other companies in order to build a relationship and sense of community among clients. It helps them build a strong reputation and sense of recognition.
DogVacay targets specific needs and desires for clients depending on where they live.
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