SPRINT31 PORTFOLIO

PetWork

A product that connects pet parents’ fur (or scaly!) kids with other similarly-tempered pets to socialize them while finding other like-minded individuals.

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Problem Statement  

Pet parents need a way to connect their fur (or scaly!) kids with other similarly-tempered pets to socialize them while finding other like-minded individuals.

Problem Background  

Pet ownership is widespread. According to the 2023-2024 National Pet Owners Survey by the American Pet Products Association (APPA), 66% of American households (or 86.9 million families) own a pet, with the Pew Research Center demonstrating that nearly all pet parents (97%) consider their animals as family members. As such, many pet parents prioritize not only their pets’ physical wellbeing, but their emotional and social wellbeing.

Socialization (defined here as the process of preparing your pet to enjoy social interactions and be comfortable with other animals, people, places, and activities) is particularly important when looking at the health of a pet holistically.

Currently, there don’t appear to be solutions that address both pet socialization and owner networking effectively, with existing social platforms being limited in scope and functionality, focusing on either one problem space or the other.

Research Insights

  • Finding compatible playmates often proves challenging, a common theme expressed among the 11 interview participants during the discovery phase of my user research. 
  • All interviewees expressed concern about the unpredictability of other animals’ behaviors and potential exposure to unknown pathogens in public spaces, with one participant in particular calling out, “I have no idea how someone else’s dog is going to behave, or if they might be carrying fleas or ticks, so it’s a definite concern”. 
  • Additionally, pet parents expressed a strong desire to connect with others who share similar interests and values, with over 50% of those interviewed noting that finding a social companion for their pet often leads to positive social relationships for themselves. 
  • Another prominent theme was the need for a supportive network or “village” where pet parents can help care for and socialize each other’s animals, easing the burden for those with different schedules.

Landing on the Solution

A product that connects pet parents’ fur (or scaly!) kids with other similarly-tempered pets to socialize them while finding other like-minded individuals.

Based on our target users’ pain points, we knew we wanted to work on the following features:

  • A way for pet owners to find suitable playmates for their pets based on compatibility and preferences.
  • A platform to connect with other local pet owners to foster a sense of community.
  • A resource for pet care advice and support from experienced pet parents and experts.

Explanation of the Solution

After showcasing a solution to the users again, we learned that:

  • Users appreciated the idea of detailed pet profiles and the ability to filter potential playmates, which would make finding compatible playmates easier and more efficient.
  • The community-building features, such as joining groups and participating in discussions, were highly valued as they would connect users with like-minded pet owners.
  • A forum feature for pet care advice and support was well-received, with users emphasizing the importance of being able to follow and bookmark useful threads and mark responses as helpful.

Future Steps

Possible additional problems to address before a launch:

  • Verification and Safety: Developing a system for verifying the health and temperament of pets in the app could help in terms of trust and safety.
  • Behavior Tracking and Reporting: Implementing features to track and report pet behavior during playdates could help pet owners make informed decisions about future interactions.
  • Scheduling and Flexibility: Addressing the scheduling conflicts and flexibility in arranging playdates could be beneficial. Features like calendar integrations, flexible scheduling options, and reminders could help ease the coordination process.
  • Local Resource Listings: Providing listings of local pet-friendly resources such as parks, vets, groomers, and pet stores could add value to the app and make it a more comprehensive tool for pet owners.
  • Emergency Support: Introducing a feature for emergency support or quick advice from experts during urgent situations could benefit users and would serve the users well in terms of app reliability.
  • Customizable Notifications: Allowing users to customize their notifications for different types of activities (new playdate requests, group posts, forum replies, etc.) could improve user experience, engagement, and retention.
  • Gamification and Rewards: Adding gamification elements and rewards for active participation, such as badges or points for organizing playdates, contributing to forums, or attending meetups, could also increase user engagement/retention.

By addressing these additional problems, we can further refine the app to better meet the needs and concerns of pet parents and ensure a safer, more connected community for both pets and their parents.

Learnings

Product Manager Learnings:

Isabela Andrade

I see it mentioned frequently among Co.Lab students that folks struggle to focus on the problem or listen to their users. Having a research background and experience in designing and conducting studies myself, I didn't anticipate this being a significant challenge for me. That said, That Einstein Quote--"If I had an hour to solve a problem, I'd spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions."--profoundly changed my thinking. I always understood this conceptually, but seeing it articulated so clearly solidified its importance for me in a way that really lent itself to my success in this program. It further underscored the JTBD concept as the foundation in which you build your product before jumping to solutions, ultimately leading to better outcomes.

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Developer Learnings:

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