From service animals to everyday companions that help curb loneliness, pets can be of huge emotional, social, and physical assistance to us humans. However, owning a pet can be much like taking care of a child. The copious amounts of time, energy, and money required to take care of a pet can be deterring, and there is no way to know which pet will fit your lifestyle without doing extensive research.
The pet finding process is currently riddled with complexity. Deciding which pet will fit best in your lifestyle, then researching what the upkeep of the pet will require, where you can get that pet near you, adoption and vet fees, how you will feed the pet, whether they are likely to have health complications, whether there are any issues about the breeding the seller is keeping hidden, whether there are an behavioural issues being kept hidden; the list of things to check for is massive.
What if there was a central, standardized hub where you could determine which furry creature would best fit your lifestyle, learn all you need to know about that species and then find a pet near you to adopt? We created Pet Connect to do just this.
While the aim of this product is to eventually cover all kinds of pets, we decided to start off with a focus on the most popular and beloved pet animal - dogs.
We talked to 10 individuals who were considering getting a dog or had recently got a dog. We asked them about their dog finding process and what their biggest challenges were. These were our key takeaways from those conversations:
User research told us that people want and need to have an extensive understanding of the what and how of adopting a dog before making such a big decision. This complex process is lengthened and made more stressful by things like a lack of transparency and trust in the people and resources involved in the process. Some individuals we interviewed went through weeks of sorting through bogus kijiji ads to finally find a trustworthy breeder. Others took a risk and then spent months discovering hidden issues with their dog that they could have dealt with properly had they just been told about the issues ahead of time.
The current market provides quizzes for people to determine what dog breed would best fit their lifestyle, and it provides sites where one can find a specific dog. But nowhere do these two things happen together, with all the information in one place.
Based on our user research, we decided to target individuals aged 23-40 who were looking to adopt a dog in the city of Toronto. We narrowed our MVP to three main features:
The scope of this product could have been huge if we factor in the ~200 dog breeds that exist all around the world. We decided to narrow down the complexity by focusing on 5 popular dog breeds within the city of Toronto, and making matches based on the common factors that emerged across our user interviews.