This week we chat to Josh Fritz, a young man who has revolutionised the social lives of dogs with PatchPets – an app created to connect dogs and dog owners from Australia and around the world in one swift click, giving users access to a directory of dog friendly parks to meet up for park playdates, hotels and groomers.
JF: In 2017 I moved from my home in Mackay to Brisbane to study at QUT. I settled into apartment life nicely but really missed my family dogs that were back in Mackay. So, of course, I had to go out and get a dog of my own. I became an avid dog-park visitor as soon as I got my gorgeous pooch Quincy, but I found heading to the park wasn’t much fun without others to hang out with and dogs to run around with. From there I did extensive research and quickly recognised the need for a resource like PatchPets, and set about making my dream a reality.
ISB: Please tell us a little about the importance of socialisation for dogs.
JF: From personal experience, Quincy is so much calmer and less yappy when she’s had the chance to run around the park and socialise with other dogs. The RSPCA also speak of the “critical socialisation period” for puppies. They advise that socialisation is critical particularly when pups are young as it assists with their development, their ability to adapt to different environments and how they interact with other dogs and people.
ISB: Did you have the tech know how to create and develop the app yourself, or did you enlist help with it?
JF: I do wish I had that type of knowhow – but luckily I have a really strong team of app developers behind me that brought PatchPets to life. In the initial stages of app set up, we enlisted an external team and we are now working on building a team of our own. Having an internal team will allow us to release weekly updates, tweaks and perks at the drop of a hat based on my commitment to the three Qs: Quicker, Quality, Quantity.
ISB: The technology itself aside, what was the biggest challenge you faced in getting the venture off the ground, and how did you overcome it?
JF: The time and money that goes into finding the right team. Even when you find the right team (as we do), it’s finding that balance between being able to develop concepts quickly enough to take your idea to market without losing that hope and drive/vision. When you’re starting out as a start-up, being able to juggle your day job, build your business and not lose that focus of what you’re trying to achieve can be quite the challenge. Many start-ups fall over because people lose that drive, I almost lost it in the process between the prototype and paying that first large payment to start development – but, boy, am I glad I pushed on!
ISB: How do you hope to see PatchPets develop in the next couple of years?
JF: I see PatchPets developing into the leading dog social media platform globally. I’m dreaming big and am hoping to be recognised as a major player in the industry alongside Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. Only difference – we’re a dedicated social platform for dogs, dog owners and dog-friendly businesses.
ISB: Finally, what is the #1 piece of advice you’d share with other young entrepreneurs looking to start their own business?
JF: Don’t let anyone tell you your idea isn’t good enough to take to market. If you have done your research and you’re passionate about your vision, don’t listen to people that try to talk you out of your plan. Also, I know you only asked for one, but I can’t help but share two… If you have an idea, start by sketching it up. Take the time out, make as many scribbles as possible and get others’ opinions. If they’re negative, don’t instantly shut your idea down, take that advice and work out how you can change their mind. Some criticism can be good, it makes you think outside the box and helps you with other ways to approach your idea. The key is to be resilient.