Waggit founder Audrey Tan takes a few minutes out of her busy day to tell us about life at a startup. Waggit is a social network for dog lovers that focuses on building a strong community of dog lovers. With Waggit, members can find pet sitters, dog walkers, or great people with whom they can schedule dog play dates.
What made you decide to start Waggit? Why dog lovers?
It sounds trivial, but I wanted to do something that combined numerous things that made me happy. And since I love tech, dogs and seeing people build positive community...I thought this would be really fun product to make that still solves a real problem. I also saw an opportunity in the marketplace. People invest an incredible amount of money on their pets and it's an industry that is slower to adopt new technology and great design. I saw a hole -- and I wanted to fill it!
As with many social networks, trust and privacy are important. How does Waggit address those issues? Is this an alternative to dog lovers creating Facebook profiles for their beloved pets?
Finding someone you can trust with your dog is really tough. Owners can be very particular and have different standards for how to take care for their dogs. Waggit doesn't pretend to know all the particulars, so instead of focusing on ratings and reviews, we use a networking effect to provide social proof that a dog and their owner are competent, responsible and close by. Waggit relies as much on real life, in person interactions as interactions through the site. This is why I plan to host meetups in local dog parks and put on events for my users. There's no substitute for meeting someone in person and feeling out how you connect.
It's very different than Facebook because the emphasis is on solving a real problem through community versus being purely social.
You're still in private beta. When can we expect Waggit to be open to the public? Can you tell me about the progress Waggit has made so far?
I've come a long ways with Waggit. Being a sole founder, I've had to call in a lot of favors and scrutinize every penny spent on design, development and marketing. Even so, I feel very lucky that I now have something that people think is fun and could really help them save money and be better to their dogs. Once I feel more confident in the size of my user base and the big bugs are worked out -- I'll be excited to open up Waggit to anyone that wants to be part of it.
What's the most difficult part about being an Asian American entrepreneur? What's the most rewarding part?
Honestly, I don't think being an Asian American has made it more difficult to be an entrepreneur. Especially in New York, diversity is everywhere and people are pretty good about focusing on merit and not ethnicity. Even if someone did treat me different because of my background, I just shrug it off and move on. I don't need more complications in my life. I'm an entrepreneur. My life is already complicated!
Tan is actively looking for a dog-loving business partner who can help her develop Waggit into something fun and original. Interested people should check out Waggit or find her on Twitter.
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