Petguards team − we are not alone in the problems we encounter daily
Petguards is one of the teams that make up the third generation of tenants of ICT Hub and they have been working on their project within the ICT Hub’s program for several months now.
Do you have a pet or do you just like animals? Be sure to visit their website, you might find solution to one of the burning issues for all pet owners. You could also find a new source of income, which would allow you to mix business with pleasure.
But we better let them explain everything for themselves…
Who is the „main culprit“ behind this idea?
The main culprits were our friends, a couple from Belgrade, who was forced to miss their vacation in the summer of 2015. Why was that important for us? Their paid vacation fell through because they were unable to find anybody to take care of their dog, which they were very attached to. After that incident, we noticed that there were a lot of people in Belgrade „tied“ to their apartments because they couldn’t find a suitable pet sitter. Our solution is our platform Petguards.rs where everybody with this kind of problem can quickly and easily choose one of our pet sitters and schedule pet sitting, pet walking or any other of our services.
Who are the members of your team and what are their roles?
The two founders are Stefan Vukobrat and Vladimir Stanković, students at the Faculty of Organizational Sciences, and startup enthusiasts. Our roles are very broad and flexible, they cover the business part, development of the platform, marketing, logistics and, of course, making coffee, as in any other startup… As the project grew, it was necessary to expand our team, which now includes Milena Milutinović, who is in charge of our blog, Srđan Stojadinović, who is in charge of social networks and Jovan Bojović, who helps us in marketing.
How has the program you currently attend helped strengthen your team?
Just the fact that we were selected to be part of the third generation, gave us strength and confirmation that the time and energy we had invested were worth while. In the program, we’ve met people like us and we realized that we are not alone in the problems we encounter daily. With every new mentor and lecture the pieces came together, we learned what were our weaknesses and advantages and we used that knowledge to better our team.
How much do mentoring and support mean at the very beginning? Were your expectations fulfilled, and what is the program lacking in your opinion?
In the beginning there are a lot of questions you don’t know the answers to, especially in legal matters. When you’re still a student, and you haven’t yet worked in a company as many of us didn’t, let alone a startup, you can’t possibly know everything you need to know about starting a company. This is where the mentors come in, and their expert guidance determines what stage of development a startup will reach. Our expectations were fulfilled, especially in one-on-one workshops, were we received specific advice that we could immediately implement in our startup. Speaking of anything that’s lacking, it’s hard to say, because we’ve been satisfied with the program so far, but let’s say that we would like to receive more advice on specific problems that concern Petguards.
How long have you been developing your idea and what stage are you in at the moment?
We have been developing our idea for about a year, but more intensely since the summer of 2016, when we came second in the first SYMORG Startup day. At the moment we have an MVP, which we are using for further development. At the same time there’s ongoing work on promotion and user acquisition.
What else do you need to make your startup and the project you’re working on the first thing that comes to people’s minds when they need a pet sitter?
We need to be present in the lives of potential customers. Through online activities, social networks, and interesting and useful content we try to enrich the days of all animal lovers. Through offline channels, we need to familiarize people with our idea as an alternative to pet hotels, which are not the best option for any animal, because the attention that our sitter can give to a pet can’t compare to the treatment they receive in the group. Before all that, we need to establish trust with our customers, because this is a very sensitive area, and a good portion of our customers come to us through referrals, which is why we put a lot of effort into customer relations.
Who are the ideal pet sitters? What does your experience tell you?
An ideal pet sitter must have passion and love for animals as a prerequisite for this job. But what’s more important is to be professional, because love is not enough, and mistakes are not tolerated in our business. So when a dog or some other pet is in our care, it will be safe in the hands of our sitters.
Can you share some of your first experiences (an anecdote is more than welcome :))?
We’ve seen just how sensitive the subject of leaving pets is when we were conducting surveys in the parks. When asked if he would leave his dog with a sitter when traveling, one gentlemen said: „I would sooner leave this child (pointing at a child next to him) then my dog“.
What are your plans for the future? What are the immediate steps and what do you see on the horizon?
Our immediate plans are to attract new customers, to expand the directory of pet sitters, and to intensify promotional activities. Further down the line, we want our name to become synonymous with safe pet sitting, first in Belgrade, later in other major towns, and also in the neighboring countries.
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