Most dogs adapt quickly to social situations, said Kwinton Scarbrough, but their two-legged companions can be more complex and anxiety-ridden about meeting new people.
“We’re creating a way for dog owners to socialize, connect and collaborate without having to give away their personal information,” said Scarbrough, CEO and founder of PawConX, a free mobile social networking platform that helps humans establish less invasive canine-to-canine and person-to-person relationships at the dog park.
Using an innovative, app-based process, PawConX allows dogs to build their own packs, he added.
“We don’t want you to be able to look up a zip code and find all of the dogs in the area,” Scarbrough said. “We want the dogs to actually select their preferred playmate.”
Click here to learn more about PawConX, which is pitching in the Dec. 12 Velocity LS Pitch Pub Crawl.
The startup was among the competitors at October’s Pure Pitch Rally where Scarbrough secured $1,000 in on-the-spot funding, as well as $5,000 in development credits from Full Scale. Since then, PawConX entered beta testing ahead of its planned launch this month.
Among the early feedback: People — rather than pups — can be too shy to seek friends at the dog park.
“Lots of introverts said that they wouldn’t use [the app], so we adapted some features to appeal more to them. We allow communication to be both active and passive … whatever level you’re comfortable with,” said Scarbrough. “We have about 20 beta testers on it right now giving us feedback … then the developer fixes the necessary changes. Once it gets approved [by Apple] it will go through more and more testing until we feel comfortable and only making small changes.”
The founder himself discovered the challenge of engaging with fellow dog owners when he purchased his first dog and wanted to socialize it, he said.
“It was difficult to keep constant interactions with people…. There are a lot of social and logistical barriers of sharing contact information; you don’t want to seem intrusive,” Scarbrough said.
PawConX offers additional perks beyond relationship building, he added, noting the app can be used to download heavily discounted vouchers that can be used at local boutique businesses.
“This is not only a dog friend finder app,” Scarbrough said. “This is a complete dog owner culture change. You’re now saving money and also embedding it into your personal day-to-day life.”
Scaling PawConX will mean expanding that local business support to boutiques in other cities as well, he said.
“Our same model of supporting local stores in Kansas City is now going to be branched off into [other] dog friendly cities,” Scarbrough said.
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.