Canada’s first on-demand dog-walking app hits Vancouver before Uber does

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      While Uber has yet to make its way to Vancouver, local dog owners can now at least nab a walk for their pups with ease.

      “When you think Vancouver, you think yoga pants, start-ups, and dogs,” says GoFetch co-founder Willson Cross during a phone interview with the Straight, “so we saw a really good fit to launch in Vancouver.”

      GoFetch is a free, on-demand dog-walking app that was released nationwide earlier this week. A former marketing director at the Vancouver-based, Cross developed the concept with his friend, Paul Ratchford, after seeing a spike in mobile rental services and a demand for dog-walkers across the city.

      “As entrepreneurs, you’re always looking at where the trend is at,” he explains. “And right now, when you can bottle time and make time more accessible for the consumer base, and give it back to them at a premium, then you have a business.”

      GoFetch allows dog owners to find "fetchers" and track the path of their walks in real-time.

      GoFetch works a lot like other mobile applications that are rooted in the sharing economy, such as Airbnb and car2go.

      A tab presents a map of the city, locating all dog walkers that are currently toggled online. Dog owners can select walkers—or “fetchers”—based on their rating, profile, and price, and the walker will receive a notification once he or she is chosen.

      Owners will be able to view the fetcher approaching in real-time via GPS, and the entire walk will be tracked on-screen in real-time as well. Once the walk is complete, the payment is handled online and the owner receives a “report card” that lists the duration and distance of the walk, plus details like whether or not the pup ran at any point or played with other dogs.

      Dog walkers interested in offering their services through GoFetch must pass an application process that includes an interview and a fully vetted background check. Once approved, fetchers pay $5.99 a month for insurance, which protects both parties in the event of an accident.

      Cross notes that, since officially launching the app last Monday (April 4), the majority of GoFetch sign-ups have been individuals—primarily students—who are hoping to become fetchers.  

      Dog owners can rate fetchers out of five stars, which the dog walkers can use to adjust their rates accordingly.

      “There’s the rise of the gig economy, which brings in the university market,” he explains. “But there’s demand across all personas, whether you’re an economics student at UBC, or you have a dog-walking business, or you really love dogs and love the social aspect of it.”

      Fetchers are able to set their own rates, based on their in-app ratings and dog-walking experience. However, each 15-minute, 30-minute, or one-hour session can be priced at a maximum of $100.

      Unlike other mobile rental apps, GoFetch does not take a cut of any transaction. Fetchers keep 100 percent of the money they make, plus tips.

      At first glance, it’s a concept that may seem a tad unnecessary (do canine owners really need someone else walking their pups?), but as Cross points out, the app’s target market—young professionals and millennials—appreciates the service, which allows them to better manage their time, and on the flip side, earn some cash.

      “The buying behaviour of millennials is that they don’t buy; they rent,” Cross says. “In this case, you’re renting out a dog walker.”