Dog-walking app founder moves to Philly to make sure market launch goes smoothly

Something you don't normally see with on-demand startups.

Barkly cofounders Chris Gonzalez (left) and Dave Comiskey (and their dogs).

(Courtesy photo)

Slow and intentional growth. That’s how Chris Gonzalez sees the expansion of his startup, an app called Barkly that connects users with dog-walkers.
Gonzalez, who lives in D.C., relocated to Philadelphia temporarily to launch Barkly in the city. (The service is live in Baltimore and D.C. right now.)
“We’re dealing with peoples’ family members and their homes, two highly emotional things, so being able to interface with customers locally is important,” Gonzalez wrote in an email.
That’s not the move you normally see with on-demand startups. Sometimes they’ll expand to several cities without any full-time staff on the ground (like Postmates did, though it now has staff here), other times they’ll hire a general manager and other operations staffers (like Instacart, Caviar and Uber). That’s the plan if the expansion to Philly goes well, Gonzalez said, but first, the bootstrapped startup is testing the market.
Might a new startup with a local presence get a boost from being part of the local tech scene? Local founders have said that one way to support the tech scene is to become an early adopter of locally built products.
Gonzalez is living in East Passyunk and working out of Benjamin’s Desk flagship location in Rittenhouse Square. His cofounder, Dave Comiskey, is holding down the fort in D.C. but they plan to switch places at the end of the month.

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