A few years ago I was talking to my friend, who was working in the animal shelter, about the adoption procedures, about… what is the reality of animals there. Not being judgmental – I saw a pattern that most people are looking for puppies or specific breeds instead of a „random dog”. Also having a few dogs during my life and speaking with a few great animal lovers I saw that even If we want to adopt, we often cannot find a fitting one in our shelter. Also, there is no place like an „adopting market” where I can browse among shelters around the country and see If there is a dog who suits me. All I have to do is type in the Google Search specific shelter and see If there is an adopting section on their websites.
That’s how the idea of Doggie became more important to me. Even If we can save a few more lives – it is worthy. But now, that we know the background story let’s dive in even deeper and see why it will work and why we should create a such app.
Everything starts with the idea
(If you don’t want to read it – click here and go to the summary of the section)
There are „projects” and projects. For me, it is important not only to create „anything” but to create something meaningful, something that will change reality. Even If we cannot change the whole world for everyone, we can change the world for one being – and it is still a success!
But let’s start with the idea! With one simple thought. „I want to save them all”. Now that we know how this idea came to me, I want to show you how it was growing.
As I said before there is no „market” for dogs waiting to be adopted in shelters. The main idea was to create such place where we invite animal shelters to join our database, add their furry children, write their stories, upload their lovely pictures and just like that – show them to the world. Without costs. For free.
Here came the first pain point: There is no way that shelters will find spare time to do this.
Quoting a very popular meme: Well Yes, but actually, No. They do this right now, they add pictures and stories, on social media and on websites. So we have here a few solutions which I want to develop and discuss with an accountant, with developers, and most of all with the animal shelters to find out the best one.
Solution 1. We offer them a site in our app and in the desktop version, a kind of landing page so they don’t have to have their own. And do the same thing here in the Doggie.
Solution 2. We can always download data and try to connect with ours. (I know there are always pros and cons, for example, the way how data are stored in the database can be different between each shelter – like I said it needs to be discussed). Maybe we can use social media posts and so on.
Solution 3. Let’s offer them to add posts in our app and allow them to share it on social media – so they still do it in one place and only once.
Anyway, back on track, we allow shelters to add their beloveds and allow users to surf throughout all shelters and offers, allows them to filter by age, by breed, by size, by wilderness or even go a step further – by their lifestyle. As we know different breeds are meant to be for a different purposes. Some of them are for hunting and some of them are coach lovers and sleepy ones. Some are very active and need to run every day for a few hours and some are so weak that to much activity can literally kill them. That’s why we don’t want to give a French Bulldog to a mountain climber, whose breathing apparatus won’t allow them to travel.
We are connected to our phones like vampires with their victims. According to studies we are spending about 6-7 hours in front of our screen per day. We check social media like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or now TikTok, we use our phones while driving in Uber, in the bus or tram. Even now maybe you are reading this on your phone or at least the phone is somewhere nearby, ready to be picked up.
Now imagine the situation that your time spent on the phone can actually, intentionally help someone. You don’t have to adopt a puppy to do this. Not all of us have the money, time or environment to do this. But what we can do is to create some inside system of points, that you can earn (by some events like watching adds, playing inside games etc.) or just buy. Then you can exchange these points for food, blankets or other stuff for your shelter. You can even virtually adopt a dog or a cat and give it to him. All because of watching ads, so you don’t have to even hold your phone or by playing some inside games If you want to use your spare time.
You are not alone
If we want our website or app or whatever our product is to work better then the best way to do it is to create something engaging. Earning points. Badges. Title. Ranks. Encourage our users to make an action like – uploading a photo or commenting on something. That’s why Doggie is also a Social App for dog and cat holders. You can place your images, ask a question about breeds, about caring or some vet issues. You can catch up for walks or trips and ask about some recommendations.
This with an additional encouraging system of points / badges / ranks or whatever will make people more connected to the app. Of course, It won’t be a main feature, but this is something that we can add, which may help us to keep our users with us.
Also, app will include some news or articles from behaviorists or vets. We can create something like „premium access” for some important stuff or even create a subpage for profesionalists to make adds in our app. As I said this is a developing idea, however as you can see there is a lot of business potential.
Swap to reality
Alright. Now that you can see that the idea is quite interesting let’s talk about numbers. Because after all numbers will determinate If this a good and working idea or it is not. Well like in business there is always a risk but I allowed myself to do some research, check on competitors and interview potential users and animal shelters.
Some wise person in my life said: „If you made research and there are no competitors then you made it wrong„.
Let’s start with the most obvious ones. I found 2 apps in The USA for adopting pets. Sadly I couldn’t reach their owners to ask how they handle this, however, looking for the number of downloads they are working quite ok – in the first phase they had like 10.000 downloads. Ok. you can say that Facebook apps go for hundreds of billions – but this is not the same target. We are not reaching the same needs and also the question is for how long do they exist and whether are they trying to develop their ideas and business.
The second one, closer to us, are websites of these animal shelters. I asked 20 friends who had something in common with adopting, with shelter work or with people who were looking for their 4-paws friends. 70% said that they were on the animal shelter’s website at least once looking for a dog or a cat If there is a list of pets. 35% answered that they were looking for the shelter’s story. If they are trustful and truly exist (this gives us an idea to make an opportunity for business users to earn a „trusted animal shelter” badge). However, most of them enter the website to get some contact info and they want to go to the shelter personally.
The less obvious ones, but the most important and risky to us are offer boards, like OLX. When you can easily search for pets ready for adoption. However, these offers and pins are more often from private accounts, not animal shelters. But thinking of that – we can, of course, add functionality for our users and allow them to put their own ads.
Where is $$$?
The idea of this was to cooperate with some charitable foundations. But not only! Because of inside games, ads and micro-payments, we can easily earn from the app itself. The business model is still open for discussion and needs some interviews with the users to check their behaviors.
Lists of pets in animal shelters around the country so the users don’t have to go site by site and see If there is a good boy for him. Users can easily filter, read the story or match with the pet.
Feature 1. Inside games and events like ad watching etc. so people can earn in-app points and help shelters by exchanging these points for food, blankets, etc.
Feature 2. Social section, where people can talk to each other. Speak with vets, behaviorists other pet holders. Where they can upload images, ask questions, comment and be a part of the community.
Feature 3. Some add-ons like „Where is my pet” and localize pet by GPS technology with a little device in the collar. Like a badge or pendant.
Phase 1. Ideation. The phase when I was developing the idea so it can be easily presented to a group of people.
Phase 2. Interviews and tests with 20 respondents online. They were asked about the functionality they want to have inside. Their’s behavior while surfing the shelter’s website. Workers of the animal shelter were asked about people’s behavior while visiting. What do they ask? What do they want to know? What is important for them?
Phase 3. Make changes to the idea and create designs.
Everything I design, every element I put in is on purpose. Nothing is by accident. The orange color which makes us more enthusiastic and brings energy to us makes us ready for action. The font and roundness give us modern look and feel. I used 4 column systems and pixel-perfect design with 8px dividers.