There’s no shortage of well-funded startups that cater to dogs and their owners.
BarkBox, a New York City-based startup, is a subscription box service catering to dog lovers that’s raised $21 million in VC funding. Los Angeles-based DogVacay, a sort of Airbnb for dogs, has raised $47 million.
Now, there’s a new startup called Bark’N’Borrow that wants to match up dogs in need of a sitter with people who love them.
Founded by Liam Berkeley in 2014, the startup is based in Los Angeles and connects people who want to hang out with a dog — maybe take one for a walk or keep it overnight.
It’s free to use for both dog owners and dog borrowers, though the service has a professional tier where money is exchanged between dog owners and professional dog walkers and sitters. The startup makes money by taking a cut of the money exchanged on the service’s professional tier.
I live in New York City, and it’s not easy to convince a landlord here to let you have a dog. I tried out Bark’N’Borrow’s service to borrow a dog for a few hours this weekend.
Liam Berkeley started Bark'N'Borrow in 2014. He and his girlfriend wanted a dog, but couldn't have one themselves at the time. So he created a network for people to borrow other people's dogs. You can use Bark'N'Borrow to find a cute dog nearby to take on a walk or hang out with for a few hours. It's free -- you don't get paid to take a dog on a walk -- though the company has expanded to paid jobs for professional sitters.
When you download the app, you're prompted to make a profile about yourself. I added a picture of me holding my parents' dog.
This is what dog owners see of you, so you want to make it clear you're a dog person. I think I spent longer crafting my Bark'N'Borrow profile than I ever have my Tinder bio.
You can set up a series of preferences -- the breeds and sizes of dogs you want to hang out with, the kinds of visits you'd like to have.
Once you finish setting up your borrower's profile, you're all set to start looking at dogs. Profiles are hand-verified, Berkeley says, which assures you're only meeting up with real people and their dogs.
If you're a dog owner, you can tap on the 'sitters' tab to check out the potential sitters around you.
Here's what it looks like when you're scouting out a dog to borrow on the platform. You can sort by breed, temperament, location, and other features.
If a dog has special needs, an owner can input information about him or her, along with a short biography.
Once you find a dog you want to meet up with, you can message its owner to discuss logistics and to meet up in person. Owners and borrowers can talk in specifics about the dog and agree to meet up before any sort of borrowing takes place.
After exchanging a set of messages and emails with his owner, I met up with Charles in a park near my apartment. I was a little nervous -- I wasn't really sure what to expect at a dog meetup. Charles, his owner and I went for a walk together and it was surprisingly fun. It might not be a service for everyone, but it's essentially the sharing economy, but for dogs. If you can't have a dog yourself for whatever reason and want to feel like you do, Bark'N'Borrow is probably the most convenient way to do it.
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