Episode 13: Shaina Denny – DogDrop

Shaina Denny

Shaina Denny

DogDrop is a female-founded dog care start-up based in Los Angeles. DogDrop provides better, more accessible dog care with their physical locations for daycare and DTC at-home essentials for dog parents.

 

Know more about Dogdrop!

Visit their website at www.dogdrop.co.

 

Follow DogDrop on social media:

Instagram: instagram.com/dogdropco

Facebook: facebook.com/dogdropco

Twitter: twitter.com/dogdrop


Hi, I’m Shaina CEO and co-founder of Dog Drop, and I’m excited to be on The Animal innovations Show.

You’ve tuned into the animal innovation show, where we feature people, products, services and ideas that are helping animals and the people who care for them live better lives. If it’s innovative, and if it helps animals, you can find it here first, so get ready. Here comes this week’s newest innovation for Animals.

So welcome, Shaina. Good to have you on. So tell us a little bit about you and how you’re innovating to help animals?

Sure, so earlier this year, January 2020 – I know we were the lucky people to launch a retail business 2.5 months before the pandemic, but we worked on the idea about 12 months before, and essentially, DogDrop is a new kind of dog daycare. So everything that you’d expect from a traditional dog daycare we do the opposite. So we’re launching very small retail locations based around quality of care and convenient Um, it’s a membership model. Our staff are all pet professionals, so it’s not just anyone who can watch the dogs. Everyone has experience in dog care. And then it’s a very high touch experience for our members. Everything from we’ve custom-built a member portal. The entire experience is very intimate, from our dog to human ratio is really focused on engagement and providing a safe place for your dog to play, whether it’s just for one hour or so while you’re trying to get some work done and you just want your dog to exercise or if you need full day care.

Yeah, that’s really interesting, because, I mean, there are a lot of doggie daycares, and that’s what I really wanted to understand is how is it different? Because it sounds like there’s a lot of things that are different.

Yeah, so, essentially at the core, we said our two biggest things that we wanted to change was quality of care and convenience and for us, and I’m sure anyone who’s in the pet service industry, they know that with most pet services, there’s not a real standardization. So in vet care, you have a vet tech certification. You’re a veterinarian, you have some kind of qualification or benchmark right. And in pet care, there are some certifications and some other companies trying to change this. But for the masses, that’s not really the case, especially when you get into dog daycare. And so for us, even when I dropped my dog off for the first time, a dog day care and I was asking about their facility asking about going to watch my dog as a first time dog parent as an adult, I had dogs growing up, but it was my first time caring for my own dog. I was shocked when they’re like, Oh, we have some volunteers that watch the dog with some other people And I was thinking even when I was 14, 15 babysitting, I had to make sure I was CPR certified right? And so that kind of is for us, very basic. So all of our stuff was at the very basic CPR certified, you know, maybe they have some other credentials. We do have some people on our team who were previous vet technicians. They have some training experience, and we try to make sure that we are providing a very high touch and high quality of care. So that was on part one was from the quality, and that even comes with the actual facility itself, Right? Is it up? Today? Is the quality for us as especially millennial pet parents? Is there an app? It’s a Web app. What is that communication like And then for us. The second part is really based around convenience, and this is a huge differentiator that has really worked in our benefit, especially throughout the Covid 19 pandemic.

In a couple of years ago, I was working very similarly to how most people are working now. Most the time I was working from home and my company, we didn’t have an office at this time. And so I was working from home most of time, sometimes going into a co-working space a couple of times a week, the other times going out for meetings. And so when I was working from home, I had a puppy puppy who, if you follow me on anything, all my poster about my ministry docks in puppy and you know it would be a working and should be asking for attention. Attention, of course. She was a puppy, and I’d say I would take her on her morning walk, my lunch break, walk and all of that. It just wasn’t enough. It’s not off-leash play. It wasn’t really allowing her to socialize in the way that she really needed, especially at such a critical puppy stage. She wasn’t getting the exercise and mental stimulation she needed. And then, as you know me, as someone who was working at a fast pace startup at the time, I just needed to be heads down and get my work done. So what I ended up doing was going to a traditional daycare and I would drive there. I would drop her off for an hour. I’m a small dog mid to high energy, and I work at the Starbucks next door, and then I’d come back in an hour and they’re like, Okay, you can leave her all day. You’ve already paid for the day because their systems are set up for half-day or full-day. It’s not very flexible for hourly, and I was like she really only needed an hour and a half of playtime and socialization, and then I would take her home and should pass out for for a few hours kind of thing. So we really wanted to provide a spot that was, you know, whatever people needed. So especially right now, we have so many pet parents who were all more than ever able to care for our dogs and watch them at home. But giving them the real engagement that they need and also allowing the parents to focus on what they need to do so were the perfect place.

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Yeah, I love that. I mean, because you’re right. Most places it’s like it’s a half-day or full-day, or you got to go find a dog park on your own and socialize your dog on your own for an hour. There’s nobody that, like you, said that is really focused on that member experiences. It’s what the pet parent means. They just they got to go run some errands and they want to drop the dog off and let them play for a while and then come back and pick them up.

Exactly. And so even part of our membership. Some of our members, they can come and say 8 to 9 a.m. Get their dog that morning exercise and awfully should play that they need that now, Maybe work from home for the rest of the day and then, in a pre covid world, hopefully soon again go up for a happy hour. Drop off their dog again while they were going out to the gym. Let’s say 6 to 7 p.m. Whatever that looks like, so it’s at full flexibility that’s in and out fully on their own terms. You only pay for the times that you’re actually using the service. So that was really important for kind of this new on-demand generation of pet parents that we’re seeing now.

The other thing you talked about was like a portal and an app and just that experience to make it easy. Tell me more about that.

Yeah, so my co-founder and I both have worked at various different tech startups as well. So having some core technology was really important to bring to life that kind of quality and convenience. And so for us in the current daycare landscape, we didn’t see any daycare management systems that met our kind of quality. There are many other solutions out there. What we saw was whether it’s outdated or also not really customizable, especially because our business that the core does operate differently than packages or half-day and full day. Sometimes they have hourly things done in credits, but it’s a little bit of a different configuration. So for us, we completely built that and develop that software from the ground up. So it provides a great member experience for our members where they can upload all of their pet critical information. We can also communicate with them with pop update for them. It’s also really important that they can track their membership time utilization. So if you use an hour and a half, how many hours do I have, or how many days do I have left in my membership? Everything just makes it really simple for the pet parent and then on the back. And for us, it really increases our operational efficiencies from our staffing to everything that we need to run the operation and facility smoothly.

Wow, that’s really impressive. And I think it would be super easy for people to use. And it sounds like because I was checking everything out and that wasn’t enough. And you said We got to make some products because some of the stuff that’s out there is just not good enough. Tell me about how you guys made the pivot into products.

Sure, so I think our whole ethic at our core, our missions to provide better and more accessible dog care. And that comes from whether that’s taking care of dogs are physical Dog Drop locations or by providing more accessible in the same high-quality products such as so far we’ve launched our lineup compostable poop bags, and we’ve innovated from the traditional dog pond bum wipe we’ve actually created on the go packets. But we noticed that so many pet parents use the wipes. You know, whether they’re out for a walk and need to wipe their dogs pa or after the dog takes a little number, too many different use cases and that they have something convenient rather than caring that big. Looks like a whole bag of baby wipes with them, right? So everything we’re ultimately it’s an innovation lab being able to be with all these dogs. We see their their behavior. We talked with their the pet parents all the time, seeing what products they need. And then everything is available for our in store members and then also for people online who aren’t close to a Dog Drop location.

Nice how many locations you guys have now, So we launched one location in January 2020. We’re preparing to do two more locations next year, and then after that we have a couple different growth throughout plans, and hopefully we’ll have a few 100 within the next five years. Wow, that’s a really big plan. And then you’re planning to grow across the US? Yes, so we strongly believe that we can have 15 plus dog drops per market. What we’re doing is we’re decentralizing dog daycare. So the traditional dog daycare or big box, whether it’s a franchise or a lot of them that you’ll see or 7000 to 15,000 square feet facilities and they’re often times off the freeway, whether that’s because different zoning or where you can actually rent somewhat affordably 10,000 plus square feet. So for us, we would rather provide ultimate convenience. And that goes everywhere where people already live, work and play. So we really go after going on the ground floor retail of apartment complexes and having you know, like one every 10 blocks or so that you can walk do they are smaller and more intimate locations. But with the membership model, you’re able to access any DogDrop location.

Nice. That’s a nice communions thing. Just to be able to do that, what’s your background? China. I’m curious like how you got into this. What was the point that you decided I’m going to use my experience and do this.

Sure. So my experience was definitely not in the physical retail world or in the pet care industry, which I think actually provides a lot of value because so many people are extreme pet care veterans in there, a super qualified and they’re awesome and have such a wealth of knowledge and experience but for being too. See, I saw things initially as a consumer, right so initially from being a pet parent. And so my background is actually I went to business school in China, and then I ended up living in China for about 3.5 years and working with early stage tech companies a lot more on the hardware side and even everything from smartphones, cameras and then even to an electric vehicle company, setting up operations and marketing all of that. And so when I moved back to the U. S. That’s what I was doing, working for an E. B. An electric vehicle, start up and got the dog, and I’m just ultimately, really into solving problems. I didn’t think that this was something I was looking for. Recommendations from friends, you know, whether that’s a dog walking app or a different dog day care. What other services and after speaking with enough folks asking for recommendations, kind of saw an opportunity and decided to go with it.

So take us to that point where you just decided that this is it, like what was going on? What convinced you that this is the path? Sure. So at the time, we were initially even looking more at to how dog services could be a B two B service. So whether that’s working with employers to offer, you know, it still reaches our goal. How to provide better care to people’s dogs so that they can have what we call like work life and dog life balance so that they can get their dog what they need and also get their work done. And then finally kind of realized that there’s so much we can do beyond just working with the employer that is the full circle with the dog and kind of it was toying with this idea got him feel really great and interesting investors, and one of them said, Let’s do it. So at that point I was all in quit. My other job and my co founder a couple weeks later, quit her job, and we just focused on building dog drop and ultimately building the best dog day care brand out there.

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Wow, that’s quite a story. I mean, you’ve had such a background and lots of interesting stuff. So now what’s the vision? I know you said to grow it to lots of locations across the country, but what’s the vision? How do you see DogDrop changing everything.

I think there’s a few things, and I also know you, of course, are in the rescue world. For us is decreasing the barrier to pet parenthood, right? If you ask anyone, why don’t you have a dog? And then, if you think, why did everyone get a dog since? Covid? Because we’re quarantining in the pandemic people with the dog, if you ask them why they don’t have a the two most common answer is much or attract too much. And most people, unless you just simply say, I don’t like dogs and I don’t want it. That’s kind of the biggest barrier is they don’t believe that they have the time or attention that they can really provide to give the dog a good life. And for us, by having dog drop, we really solve that need that we say, Hey, you don’t have to be there 24 7 and we’re there to help support you. You can still be an awesome dog parent and actually getting your dog out of the house and providing them the opportunity to socialize with new friends and also being independent for us. It’s great to see dogs when they have their own life. Like when I know I dropped my dog. That dog job. She acts differently. She has her own thing going on, and that’s her own world, apart from Mom. And so we’re there to make it really easy and convenient to be a pet parent. And so, essentially, we see dog drops everywhere across the U. S. I have a strong international background as well. That’s always very appealing to me. I’d love to bring dog drop to other countries and just make it easier and more convenient to provide awesome pet carry to your dog and not at an accessible price point. I love listening to you talk. You’ve got such a big vision, and the ideas that you’ve got are really focused on solving the problem. Like you said that you see as a dog parent as a pet parent, you recognize that sometimes you don’t want to take them there for the whole day, and a lot of them have. They almost followed the daycare model like the People human daycare model, as opposed to really thinking about what do pet parents want? And it’s just really interesting listening to talk and you’ve got a big vision and goal for where you want to take this. Yeah. I mean, the way we’re incorporating our dogs in our everyday life is changing. It’s not how it was even five years ago or 10 years ago or say right. We want to be able to spend most of time with their dog, but there are times when it’s just not appropriate. It’s not convenient. And it’s not in the best interest for all parties involved. And that’s when we’re there. Were traditional dog daycare is more like drop off your dog. We want the dog as much as we can have the dog were like, Hey, no, you know, come when you need us and take your dog home when you need to and even for us. That’s why before we’re working with so many dog friendly offices, where traditional dog take care is like we don’t want offices to become friendly because then those people aren’t going to our dog daycare, right? We’re like, Hey, drop off your dog for an hour before work, get their fun and crazies out, you know, drop off. Hopefully, dog drop will be around the block from your office. Anyway, if you have an important call, you can hang at the office, drop your dog off a dog job for an hour. Well, you have that meeting. Whatever you need, that we would be in a convenient location. Yeah, it’s really smart. I can see lots of opportunities. And, like you said, even within businesses and downtown areas in rural areas, I mean, there’s just a lot of a lot of different directions you can go. So if people want to learn more, I know you have the one location out in L. A. But they want to learn more and kind of keep in touch with you. How can they do that? Yeah, awesome. You can find the most, actually, our instagram super active at Dog Drop Co. Or on our website. For more information at WWW.DOGDROP.CO.

Cool. Well, Shaina, I’m really excited you came on today. Is there anything else you wanted to mention before we wrap things up? I just wish everyone a great 2021 hopefully we’re all on the up and up and how to have a great year with our dogs ahead. and I’m really open to connecting with new folks. Whether you’re even interested in starting a dog day care for yourself. I’ve connected with many people. If you find a way that you think that you can partner with dog drop or just kind of want to say hi, feel free to reach out very cool. And well, of course, remind all our viewers and listeners that if you’ve got an idea for an innovative product service or just an innovative idea that helps animals go to innovations that show and let us know about it. So thanks again, Shana. So glad that you came on today. Thanks, Chris. Appreciate it.

Thanks for joining us for The Animal Innovations Show. If you want to volunteer to help animals, check out doobert.com where you can join tens of thousands of Dooberteers supporting rescues and shelters around the world to help animals. And if you know, if something or someone innovative that’s helping animals, let us know by going to WWW.INNOVATIONS.SHOW.

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