An Irish TripAdvisor-like tool for pets is in line for Las Vegas glory

20 Jul 2017

Image: lassedesignen/Shutterstock

WoofAdvisor, a platform focused on the pet travel market, is in line for a major international prize.

Pitch contests are nothing new, so it takes something kooky in this region to truly catch the eye.

So how about a pet-themed, Las Vegas-hosted, cash prize-awarding event called Pet Project 2017?

Hosting 11 start-ups, organisers of the pitch event have offered up a $25,000 “no strings attached” cash prize for the winning entrepreneur, with a friend of in with a chance to win.

Woof trade

“WoofAdvisor was established to cater for the rapidly growing and evolving pet travel market,” said WoofAdvisor founder Gerry Molloy when talking to us earlier this year.

“We bring like-minded pet lovers together, providing them with content that is relevant, independent and trusted, providing a resource that helps take the uncertainty and stress [away from] all aspects of travelling with their pets.

“We connect the accommodation, hospitality and pet sectors with a global community of committed pet lovers.”

Pet technology brands PetCoach and Whistle are the duo behind the competition, bringing start-ups from South Korea, the US and Ireland together on one Las Vegas stage.

“As the global pet market continues to grow and consumer behaviour evolves, great ideas are going to win,” said Brock Weatherup of Petco, which acquired PetCoach.

“Helping founders accelerate innovation is something many of us in the pet industry want to help foster.”

When the going gets Woof …

Weatherup, along with Ben Jacobs, co-founder and CEO of Whistle, claims the pet industry is worth more than $60bn worldwide.

Given the onset of smart applications and better nutritional awareness, that figure could continue to rise.

The duo think the pet space is ripe for innovation, so they teamed up to help new pet ventures clear the traditional hurdles of bringing an idea to such a large marketplace.

“The rest of our lives have become smarter, and we now have the opportunity to create a smarter way to care for our pets,” said Jacobs.

“We are believers in bold, new businesses and are hosting this pitch event because we know that when great concepts meet opportunity, results are sure to follow.”

The finalists have all been invited to Las Vegas to present their ideas in a private pitch on 25 July. The $25,000 prize for the overall winner is provided to “help accelerate their business”, according to the organisers.

… the Woof get going

Molloy’s WoofAdvisor is designed to serve animal lovers and service providers. It offers an easy-to-use, smart search facility, where the users’ search criteria can combine destination and business name or category, with search results presented in both list and interactive map formats.

“While the ‘baby boomer’ or ‘empty nester’ generation has been the traditional mainstay of the pet travel market, the landscape is rapidly changing, with millennials increasingly coming to the fore in terms of travel, levels of pet ownership and pet travel,” said Molloy last February.

“They have already surpassed baby boomers as the largest pet-owning generation. In terms of spend on travel, although this generation only equals 20pc of world population, they will represent 50pc of global travel spend by 2020.

“Millennials are also the demographic most likely to read and post reviews and ratings, and to use social media to connect with brands, and research products and services.”

Molloy said he is also tapping into the social media aspects of pet ownership, saying that there are 83m pet profiles on Facebook, one in 10 pets in the UK have their own social media page, and more than half of UK pet owners post about their animals on social networks.

The 2017 finalists are:

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic