Barkly Pets, the D.C.-based dog walking app that has spread to four cities in two years, has been nominated for the Purina 2017/2018 Pet Care Innovation Prize. The company, which also operates in Philadelphia, New York and Baltimore, will receive $10,000, participate in a Purina business boot camp with the other finalists and meet industry influencers before appearing at the Global Pet Expo in Orlando, Florida, in March.
“Being recognized by Purina is terrific,” Barkly Pets cofounder Chris Gonzalez told Technical.ly DC. “What we’re really looking forward is to collaborate with Purina and the cohort of finalists and entrepreneurs.”
Barkly Pets, which now employs hundreds of dog walkers, was founded in 2015 in Capitol Hill by friends Gonzalez, Dave Comiskey and Jim Camut. The app allows customers to review and choose walkers, track the progress of walks and receive photos and reports of all dog-related walking activities.
“The Pet Care Innovation Prize is Purina’s way of working with other pet lovers to reward ideas that will raise the bar in making the lives of pets and the people who love them better,” Blair Morgan, vice president of innovation at Purina, said in a statement.
It costs between $16-$24 to have your dog walked by a Barkly walker for a half hour, and don’t worry about a team of other dogs entering your home, because Barkly only walks the dogs from one household at a time.
“We have dog walkers on a path to make $40,000 a year,” Gonzalez said. “They receive up to 80 percent commission, and some walks can run $50 an hour, so you really have to take 50 walks a week, or five hours of walking a day. And many of our walkers have a side hustle, like as a barista or at a childcare center.”
Gonzalez said the company has a vision to go nationwide, but is still refining the product.
“I think we personalize the dog walking experience for people,” he said. “There are still some things that we are trying to figure out, like what makes the best match for a dog walker and dog owner. What might work with 100 walks might not work with 1,000 walks.”
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