Western countries have been pioneering the pet service industry for some time now.
According to a report by FOX Business, there are nearly 30,000 professional dog walkers employed in the United States and it is estimated to be a $901 million a year business. That’s a lot of money to walk furry 4-legged creatures.
Startups overseas such as TrustedHouseSitters and PetsIt have also gained traction for their pet boarding and pet sitting services which have been making waves in multiple countries.
But Malaysia has yet to see an app that combines all these services onto one platform, an app that truly serves all the needs and wants of a pet lover.
The biggest challenge for that to work? Finding people that would place your pet as a priority.
The numerous terror tales of pet boarding incidents have sparked a certain fear with Malaysian pet owners. From unlicensed establishments to pet hotels neglecting the animals under their care, it’s no wonder there lies a sense of paranoia when sending pets for boarding.
To establish this sense of trust, it would make sense to place your pets only in the hands of other fellow pet lovers. This is where PetBacker’s Malaysian team steps in.
What Does PetBacker Do?
PetBacker is the first pet-centric platform in Malaysia that allows pet lovers to gather in one community and offer a variety of pet services such as pet grooming, dog walking, pet sitting and boarding, and veterinary services.
With funding from Vision Technology Consulting, the app (available for both iOS and Android) was first tested in pet friendly areas such as the United States, United Kingdom, and Singapore. After receiving an encouraging number of sitters signing up, the team decided to bring it over to Malaysia.
“Our investor and group CEO also lost his pet due to infections picked up from a pet boarding hotel in Shah Alam, resulting in the death of his pet,” shared Khoo Han Wei from PetBacker.
So as you can tell, their collective mission to cultivate a culture where pet lovers can gather and take care of one another is a personal one.
Breakdown Of The App
PetBacker has two groups of users on their platform: a) users seeking for pet services and b) users offering their services to other pet owners.
The advantages that users have when requesting a pet service:
- The user interface of the app is simple to navigate
- Detailed information of your pet’s background and medical history is recorded
- Users can manually choose the person that they want to hire after reading reviews, instead of being automatically assigned
- Average waiting time for offers is within 24 hours
The advantages that users have when offering a pet service (backers):
- Backers can determine their own rates for their services (although PetBacker suggests the price of RM25 for small sized pets to RM60 for large size pets)
“Occasionally, we do have pet sitters charging up to 80 for boarding because of the facilities they offer like a large garden, cage-free compounds, fully air-conditioned, home cooked food or boarding only one pet at a time,” shared PetBacker to Vulcan Post.
- Backers can personalise their profile so that pet owners can get to know the backers’ experience, knowledge, and love for animals
- Backers, who are already pet lovers themselves, get to earn money doing something that they are passionate about
Since PetBacker is an international platform, their main mode of payment is PayPal but specifically for Malaysian and Singapore users, there is a direct bank in method where PetBacker will take about 10 to 15% of the service fees.
How’s Their Traction So Far?
And the results seen after 3 months is commendable. By the end of January, PetBacker received about 50 to 70 sign ups per day through organic reach with 20% asking for pet services and 30% signing up as pet sitters.
How Does PetBacker Build Trust?
As a pet owner myself, I do think this is a great initiative but I can see why there may be people who aren’t too warm to this idea.
Mainly because when it comes to pets, Malaysians would prefer having familiar people care for their dear animals rather than strangers.
The main issue is trust, which PetBacker acknowledges by providing a thorough system to weed out any potential threat that could happen to your pets.
- A trust point system is built-in for every profile. Trust points will be higher for every social media account linked and for every personal details included. Higher trust points leads to higher credibility.
- PetBacker has a team who will call users to validate the info given and spot checks will be done once in a while to delist pet sitters who do not meet specific requirements.
- An exam and certification program is in the works.
“We are also working with a vet to create an exam and certification program to test the knowledge of our pet sitters. We’re hoping to launch this latest by next month to ensure and increase the quality of Pet Sitters on our platform,” shared Han Wei.
- Insurance plan is prepared for pet sitters and pet owners. This is the opposite of most pet hotels whereby pet owners will be asked to sign a document relieving them of any responsibilities should anything unfortunate were to happen to their pet.
- The system is community-based and users can check reviews before picking a sitter. Sitters with bad reviews will receive counseling from PetBacker and will be delisted if their bad performance continues.
To highlight their drive to start a community of pet lovers, PetBacker hopes to be able to organize events such as community pet events, pet adoption, rescue, donation and awareness campaigns with animal shelters like SPCA and PAWS.
When asked on future updates on their platform, Han Wei said, “We are working on a dog tracking feature now where you can track your pets with our app. We also aim to cover every town and city in Malaysia by the end this year.”
Feature Image Credit: PetBacker