VANCOUVER, B.C., November 15, 2021— FurrySitter Ltd., a startup in incubation at Empowered Startups, has recently kickstarted two academic research projects, assessing the emotional barriers that prevent pet owners from trusting pet care services. Two teams of students from Kwantlen Polytechnic University and Douglas College are working diligently with the founder to reveal new insights related to those barriers. The research will be conducted over 2 months, aiming to support the founder with uncovering the underlying concerns of pet owners.
Bridging the Gap In Canada, 58% of the households have at least one cat or dog (Source: Canadian Animal Health Institute). However, FurrySitters previous research indicates that many pet owners still show hesitation to the idea of finding pet sitters and trainers online.
“People feel comfortable paying to live in someone’s home, get a ride in someone’s car, or even leave their kids in daycare, but they struggle to trust someone to take care of their pet. I strongly believe that there is a gap in the market. I hope to address this gap by using a design thinking approach to identify the root cause and solve it with an innovative platform”
– Sandy Tang, Founder of FurrySitter
Sandy discovered this gap while interviewing a large sample of pet owners. However, this phenomenon is not surprising to her and motivated the founder to get into more granular market research. Her goal is to learn more about the underlying concerns. Initial findings from KPU students show that even if pet owners haven’t had any bad pet sitting experience before, they will do everything to avoid it.
Finding a good pet sitter is always a challenge for pet owners, leaving them to ask for referrals, read through pages of reviews of sitters and still feel uncomfortable when using the service. FurrySitter wants to change this, and is therefore introducing a new standard to define “trustworthy and dependable pet sitting service”.
Research to explore the true needs and expectations of pet owners
Research projects have been launched in collaboration with Kwantlen Polytechnic University and Douglas College. Two teams are assessing the underlying concerns and frustration of pet owners while learning more about their desired outcomes related to pet care. The students work closely with the founder and their professors to identify the root causes.
“It has been a great experience for my students to work with FurrySitter as they get ready for market launch. Firstly, we fulfill our mandate to provide hands-on experience to our students. Secondly, and most importantly, they have a chance to help a promising service concept addressing a real market need to become a reality.” – Marcelo Machado, Ph.D., Professor of Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Melville School of Business
The research aims to analyze the topic from different angles. Thus, various design-thinking methodologies for primary research are used, such as narrative interviewing including laddering, engaging focus groups, and launching surveys with potential customers.
Based on the initial analysis from both institutions, FurrySitter will further adjust its product. The solution and its features that aim to address the unmet needs will then be exposed to the target audience again to get customer inputs and validate solution fit. All these findings will turn into the design and experience of the initial prototype of the platform. The goal is to soft launch the platform in early 2022, hoping to bring a new pet care experience to the first group of customers. FurrySitter brings pet care services to a new level by offering quality services with professional pet sitters and trainers.
The venture has already lined up its next marketing-related projects to reach its audience starting at the beginning of next year. Collaborations involve Simon Fraser University and the University of Lethbridge.
Founded in 2020, with the mission to bring happiness to pets and pet owners by uplifting their pet care service experience. FurrySitter hopes to relieve the hassles and provide more choices to pet owners by connecting them to a group of professionals for dependable caring services for their pets.
About Empowered Startups
Empowered Startups is an Innovative Startup Incubator and foundry headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. With offices in Canada, France, and Portugal, we train/mentor/ and network entrepreneurs to successfully launch new businesses in diverse markets. As a foundry we also conceive, build and launch our own products and solutions.
Empowered Startups is recognized by the Canadian Government as a designated start-up business incubator and is known internationally for growing ideas into sustainable businesses using both a virtual and on-site model. Empowered Startups mentors, accelerates, and incubates innovative domestic and global business ideas. Our training tools and mentorship are used and recognized by leading global university labs, Startup incubators, and innovation hubs.
Notable EdTech products under the Empowered Startups Umbrella: Young Empowered Startuppers (YES) – A fully integrated e-learning platform for high schools that guides teachers and students on an innovative entrepreneurial journey starting with an idea and ending with a viable and pitch ready venture, and Empowered Nations – providing specialized entrepreneurship training, mentorship, and tools through an Indigenous lens.
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