Wag, a startup that helps connect pet owners and dog walkers with a mobile app, has touched down in San Francisco. The company, formerly only in operation in Los Angeles, recently added the tip of the Bay Area as its second locale.
Wag vets dog walkers using background checks, and then insures their activities. Dog owners can schedule walks for their dogs, and track their pooch in-app while it is out on a stroll. A 30 minute walk costs $20 — Wag takes a 40 percent cut, a fee which it said is either on par with current market norms, or slightly better.
I spoke to the company a week after its launch in San Francisco, inquiring how initial traction has been in its new market. Wag declined to provide hard numbers, but did disclose that, as a market, SF has grown around three times as fast as LA originally performed.
The company intends to launch in ten cities over the next twelve months it informed TechCrunch. As you might expect, Wag looks for density among both working professionals, and dog populations when selecting new markets.
Wag appears to be pursuing an expansion strategy that has been employed by a number of on-demand startups: Solidify your home market to understand your economics, add nearby markets to begin geographical expansion, and then increase your tempo. Instacart had a similar expansion curve, for example.
Of course, growth takes cash. Asked by TechCrunch about its current fundraising activities and goals, Wag declined to comment on the record. The company did note that it expects new markets to become profitable after their first two or three months of operation.
Among Wag’s users base, 95 percent have never used a dog walker before, according to the company. That metric implies, provided that it holds up as Wag’s user base itself grows, that the company is expanding the market for dog walking, not merely servicing the extant demand pool in a new fashion.
Currently, Wag offers one-on-one dog walks. The company has plans to introduce group dog walks which could sport a lower per-walk price for Spot. That capability is roughly a half year out, according to Wag. If Wag can reduce the cost of having a dog walked, that could help make the service affordable for more people, perhaps even making pet ownership more accessible to a broader set of income tiers.
In the age of Uber for everything, Wag fits among a host of other on-demand startups looking to deploy quickly-sourced labor to service long-standing pain points.
The proof will be in the growth.