Our Tech Start-Up of the Week is MyDoggyHotel.ie, a new online booking website for pet accommodation in Ireland that’s taking the pet industry to a new digital level.
David Masterson set up the website in August of this year, as he saw a gap in the marketplace for such a website to help pet owners find, compare, and book online the best pet accommodation available.
MyDoggyHotel.ie was officially launched last week as part of Dublin City University’s (DCU’s) 12 Day of Christmas campaign. Each day, for 12 days, in the advent to Christmas, DCU is launching a new tech-start-up that has been spawned from the university or that has been garnering expertise from the academic team there.
Back to MyDoggyHotel.ie. Say you are going on holiday or for a night, a few days or a couple of weeks and need to find somewhere suitable for your pet to be looked after. The website will give you a description of facilities, pictures and map location of each pet accommodation choices featured on it.
How the business idea grew
So what was the impetus to set up MyDoggyHotel.ie? Explains Masterson: "We had recently lost our much-loved family dog, Jess, and my Dad, who is retired, was looking to have some involvement with dogs without having the responsibility of having another dog full time. I was online researching the idea of him becoming a pet sitter and the business idea grew from there."
Setting out with the new venture, Masterson says the main challenge was getting the website to where they wanted it.
As he says: "It’s one thing having a website functional but I think nowadays it has to be very user-friendly or people will just click off. The money for the business was put in by family. Personally, a lot of work has gone into creating this website. I wanted to keep my costs as low as possible so took it upon myself to learn as much as I could about the front end and back end of building a booking website like MyDoggyHotel."
The team comprises Masterson and his Dad Hugh also helps with the workload.
Masterson says he is also indebted to his family and friends who have supported him. "Any start-up benefits massively from good support."
And have there been any specific entities that have helped? “DCU Business School and LINK have been particularly helpful and supportive. I think DCU really gets business and enterprise; they prove it with creating initiatives like the ’12 Business Days of Christmas’."
Scaling up the business
Masterson also has his eye on scaling up the business.
“People need to know where to find a good place to leave their pet when they are away. The pet industry has not moved completely online yet like a lot of other industries in Ireland. We want to be the first place online people think of when wanting to put their family pet into overnight stay. We are devoting our time to Irish market before we look elsewhere to make sure everything is the best it can be. In the short term there is nothing stopping us scaling into other regions such as the UK.
He also thinks the ‘thoughtfulness’ that has gone into creating the site will make MyDoggyHotel.ie stand out.
"We want to offer pet owners a place they can trust and return to for their pet booking needs for their cat or dog. We are always looking to improve though and we will be exploring how we can harness the power of social media to help us do just that."
And Masterson’s advice for new tech ventures in Ireland right now?
“I believe in supporting the domestic economy, where viable, and there are so many talented people out there that have skills that are being under-used. Be persistent, engage with these individuals and come to a mutual goal that benefits everyone. There is no shortage of ideas, it’s how you mobilise people and employ strengths around you that gets start-ups off the ground," he affirms.