The Swifto App: It’s Kind of Like Uber, But For Your Dog
Dog owners worried about leaving their pets cooped up in the house all day will soon be able to call on a walker using an app, and track their pets movements around the block.
Mohammed Ullah, CEO of Swifto, a smartphone app that sends alerts to owners and updates them with a dog walker’s route, said the company is preparing to unleash its services in Boston sometime in September or early October. “The problem we realized is that owners—especially in urban areas—don’t know their your dog is actually being walked, or how long that walk actually is,” says Ullah of the company’s creation last year in New York City, comparing it to people using Uber’s on-demand car app or Airbnb’s housing rental services.
Rather than look for a ride, however, users of Swifto instead connect with available dog walkers located near their residence, and can request that they stop in to let pets outside for a desired amount of time. Swifto typically sees two types of dog owners, based on the launch of the app in New York City, and has been “successful” in catering to those customers. “There are those who need their dogs walked multiple times a week, and then there is another version which is the sporadic owner who may need an emergency walk throughout the week,” says Ullah.
A typical 30-minute walk costs upwards of $20 a day, and is offered three times a week as a package. There are also impromptu walking requests, which cost around $35. Customers can set up an account online, where their credit card information is stored in Swifto’s system.
When a walker is registered with Swifto, they will receive notifications that a customer is looking for someone to let out their pet. That’s when the app’s tracking services come into play, says Ullah. “What happens is, as soon as [the walkers] start a walk, it shows up on the application, and it will track them on a live map. And the owner, from work, can see on their phone or on their computer the walk as its occurring.”
Owners can also get notifications when the pet goes to the bathroom as well as updates about behavior. The system also sends a text when the walk begins and ends.
But before dog lovers turn their pets over to complete strangers, Ullah says that Swifto vets those who offer their dog-walking services, and requires a “thorough” screening that requires passing a background check, written quiz, in-person meeting, and training. “We schedule a face-to-face interview to ensure their love for our furry friends. Then we do an authorized background check on each walker. Lastly, the walkers all attend a three-hour training day at our main office. Only after all of these qualifications are met can applicants begin walking for Swifto,” according to the company’s official rules.
Ullah says the company, which received $2.5 million in funding from Benchmark Capital, was created with a goal of cultivating a community of dog walkers, rather than a business with designated employee, or a market place like Craigslist where anyone can sign up. “There are a lot of owners who want to have pets but cant enjoy it because they can’t give their pets enough exercise. We finally give them a service that takes away that anxiety and worry,” says Ullah.