A common love for pet animals has brought three good friends together to start an online pet service provider. Among its services are pet boarding, pet sitting, dog walking, dog training and even pet taxi, all on a single platform.
Agnez Lim, Joanne Lee and Nga Szu Man left the corporate world to work on providing a platform to help raise the standard of pet care in Malaysia. Since JomPaw (jompaw.com) was launched at the beginning of 2017, it has successfully recruited 100 active caretakers and reached out to 200 customers.
Although a majority of the services are limited to the Klang Valley, it has expanded to Penang, Perak, Negri Sembilan and Johor. But the three co-founders have no plans to rest on their laurels and are ready to expand operations to the rest of the nation.
How JomPaw began was quite accidental; it was inspired by Lim’s golden retriever named Big Boy. When Big Boy died in late 2016, Lim felt the need to fill the void but she wasn’t ready to have another pet.
Since she was in between jobs and needed to earn some income, she decided to pet sit for others. When she did more research, she found there were not many professional pet-sitting services out there. So she started a simple website, also called JomPaw, during the Christmas and New Year seasons.
Within a month, Lim couldn’t keep up with the overwhelming demand and she roped in her two animal-loving friends, Lee and Nga. Lee and Lim were college friends while Nga was Lee’s former colleague.
Seeing its potential, the trio decided to take JomPaw seriously and registered the online company. They began by offering pet sitting, pet boarding and dog walking services, before expanding into pet day care, pet taxi, and recently, dog training. Converging their expertise in business consulting, e-commerce, marketing and PR, they haven’t looked back since.
“At first, we only had four sitters, including us. Then we started recruiting friends and individuals who have experience in taking care of pets,” says Lim.
She stresses that JomPaw advocates cageless boarding in a home environment, thus their services provide peace of mind to clients who can feel secure in the knowledge that their pets are being cared for in a loving home while they are away. “We are like Airbnb or Uber for pets,” exclaims Lim.
“We would respond to clients as soon as we get their bookings online, and match and connect the clients with the sitters. We try our best to meet their requirements,” says Nga, who is responsible for connecting clients to respective boarders and sitters.
JomPaw is known for its quality and personalised services. There will be a meet-and-greet session between clients and caretakers to ensure both parties are comfortable with each other before payment is made. Pet sitters also update the owners during the boarding period by sending them photos or videos of their pets.
Their service providers must pass a multi-tiered approval and review process. Lee personally screens potential sitters by interviewing them and gauging if they are experienced enough. “Only 30% of the total applicants ended up coming on board. We also provide on-boarding training with sitters and boarders,” says Lee.
So far, they got the word out through a combination of online publicity and striking partnerships with vets, groomers and supply stores. Many of their clients approached them through word-of-mouth recommendations. Most of them are repeat customers and they would engage at least two services each.
Last year, they approached Malaysian Police K9 Unit for possible partnership and has since launched a dog training service that is led by a former chief instructor of the unit.
Another area that JomPaw is actively working on is its charity arm www.JomPawCharities.org, which was set up to lend a helping hand to animal welfare organisations in Malaysia in fundraising and volunteers’ deployment.
Last year, it successfully raised funds for Furry Friend Farm and the company is looking to work on other charity projects this year.
Lim says besides acquiring more clients, one of JomPaw’s goals is to educate people on the various aspects of pet care. “We’ll be investing more in marketing to promote our services. At the same time, we want to strike up more partnerships with offline stores, individual pet rescuers and shelter homes,” she says.
The three friends are positive about the potential of this business. “We expect to see strong growth within the pet care sphere in the next five years. The pet humanisation trend and growing influence of social media will encourage people to continue adopting pets in time to come. Therefore, the demand for pet services is guaranteed to grow too,” concludes Lim.