Did you know in 2018, $579M was invested into the pet tech space with the goal of capturing some of the $72B spend on pets in the US on a yearly basis. WOW! Needless to say, the pet market in the US is hot.
Another industry that is hot; Online dating. An estimated $3B+ market size by 2020.
If you were to take the intersection of these two worlds you would get Dig – The Dog Person’s Dating App. Co-Founded by Leigh and Casey Isaacson, this sister team wants to make dating for dog parents easy and fun. With two on-trend and vast market sizes, Dig just might be onto a major opportunity.
Learn more about this dynamic team below.
Leigh, how did the idea for the dig dating app come together?
My sister, Casey, was dating a guy who TRIED to be a dog person for her. By the end of their relationship, though, he didn’t want the (most adorable ever) dog in his apartment or he would put towels down on the couch so Layla wouldn’t touch anything. She said to me, I wish I just knew from the start that it wasn’t going to work because of my dog. We looked into it and saw that 55% of all single adults in the US are pet owners, so we knew she wasn’t alone in thinking that. With rapid shifts happening in the pet tech world and in the dating app industry, we knew this was a huge opportunity.
For those that don’t know, how do you define dig?
Dig – The Dog Person’s Dating App is the best way for dog lovers and dog owners to find a compatible date. You can also plan a dog-friendly date right from the app when you match with somebody. You can search for someone with a dog or without a dog because we know not all dogs get along, or maybe you want to find someone to get a dog with in the future.
You are sitting at the intersection of online dating and dog lovers. though somewhat niche, why do you think this is a large market opportunity?
55% of single adults in the US are pet owners with dogs leading the way – and dog ownership growing every year. This is a major compatibility issue for people who are dating who, likely, already have a dog sleeping in their bed!
Also, in the dating app world, the average dating app user uses 3 or 4 dating apps at a time for 9 or 10 hours a week. So, people are doing everything they can to find the best platform to match them with the right person (and potentially, their pup!)
Also, dogs are already an integral part of the online dating scene. PetSmart Charities surveyed 1,200 Match.com users and found:
- 70% of singles think their dates’ reaction to their pet is important
- Men who were holding puppies were rated as nearly 27% sexier relative to every other man, as well as 14% more trustworthy
- 25% think that owning a dog is an asset to their dating life
- 51% feature at least one image of their dog on their dating profile
Wag, the dog walking app, surveyed 3,500 dog owners and found:
- 86% would break up with their significant other if they weren’t into their dog
- 3 in 10 dog parents have used their dog to attract a potential partner
- 60% say they’ve been flirted with while walking their dog
- On dating apps, 73% of dog parents are more likely to engage with a person’s profile picture if it includes a dog
- 78% of dog parents are more likely to go home with someone if they say they also have a dog
Dogs and Dating Markets:
Pew Research Center says 15% of all American adults tried a mobile dating app in 2017, up from 3% in 2013. One-third of U.S. marriages now start from online dating.
55% of single adults in the U.S. are pet owners. According to the American Pet Products Association, in 2017 Gen Y/millennial pet ownership surpassed baby-boomer ownership to now account for 35 percent of all pet owners.
Pet-free Millennials are 39% more likely to own dog or cat in the future and are 77% more likely than any other generation to get a dog or cat while unmarried and not a parent.
Millennials are considering dog-parenting needs in other major aspects of their lives already:
A survey released in July 2017 by SunTrust Mortgage found that a third of millennials who had already purchased their first home said they were influenced by the need to have space for a dog.
44% of all households in the United States have a dog and the amount of money spent on pets continues to rise. In 2017, a total of about 89.7 million dogs lived in households in the United States as pets. According to the American Pet Products Association, $60.28 billion was spent on pet industry expenditures in 2015, $66.75 billion in 2016 and $69.51 billion in 2017.
You talk about growing the business through partnerships with organizations like barkbox. can you tell us more about how those partnerships will work?
We share the overall mission of wanting to better lives for dog people and dogs themselves, and our partners help us spread the word about Dig to their fans, followers, and dog-park acquaintances. For our partners, we offer our unique experience with hyper-local fun and free events for dog people and creative content that their single dog-loving fans will appreciate.
Dig has strategic partnerships with significant companies to sponsor and host events in dog-friendly spaces, such as at WeWork locations, to create co-promotional marketing campaigns for dog owners with companies such as Pet Supplies Plus, Nulo Pet Food, and Rover, and for data sharing opportunities with companies like PupJoy. Dig also features adoptable dogs from rescue partners on all @DigDates social posts and in paid digital marketing.
Who is your target user and how are you going after them?
The majority of Dig users are 25-35 year old single dog-lovers who live in US metro areas. Dig’s users are strongly attached pet parents and those who see themselves as future pet parents who are comfortable with technology. Our target pet parents and future pet parents can be segmented by how they view their relationship with their dog using terminology and mottos regularly seen in the pet industry and by pet parents on social media. These are behavioral and conversational indications of target Dig users:
Passionate dog-parents consider their dog to be their baby and their motto is, “all you need is love.” Passionate future dog-parents are most likely to dogsit their friends’ dogs or be foster parents.
Playful dog-parents say their dog is their best friend, and their motto is, “a tired dog is a happy dog.” Playful future dog-parents take the long route on a walk to pass and see the dogs in the dog park.
Practical dog-parents consider their dog to be part of their pack, and their motto is, “my dog’s behavior is a reflection of me.” Practical future dog-parents will stop mid-sentence to point out there’s a dog nearby.
Dig Acquires Customers and Drives Revenue and Value through:
- Dog-Friendly Events and Experiences
- Digital Marketing Partnerships
- Public Relations and Press
- Content Distribution to Influencers
- Digital Advertising
- Event Sponsorships
- Strategic Pet Industry Partnerships
- Consumer Data Shares
Our growth tactics include:
- Use our analytics to target/retarget users and identify growth opportunities
- Build up marketing and data team to capitalize on the wave of momentum that has been created by our events and press
- Focus on efficiently driving the value of the company through acquiring and retaining customers, continually developing and advancing technology & data analytics, and continuing to push on revenue models through advertising and co-promotional partners
- Continue to throw regional launch parties
- Continue implementing efficient press relations and media campaign
- Build up local brand ambassadors and event specialists to focus on outreach and both client and partner acquisition in each launch city post launch
- Continue to advance technology to drive more data analytics and offer users and customers a continually improving interface and experience
- Launch social media influencer digital campaigns
- As Dig achieves more users, offer subscription tiers with additional features for users
Strengthen strategic co-marketing and data share partnerships with local, regional, and national brands
- Explore and develop new strategic partnerships to support growth plan
Raise appropriate funds to be able to sustain company during growth phase and through a potential exit scenario
Dig has a unique, scalable, and cost-efficient template for user acquisition by city. Hyper-local growth through sponsored dog-friendly events, regional press, and local partnerships ensures a fast way for Dig to enter new markets through the dog-community that also builds goodwill and brand affinity.
Impressively, you’ve had over 16k people download the app. what type of engagement are you seeing on your app and what type of feedback are you getting?
Our users give great feedback, and we get the feedback through surveys and emails as well as in person at Dig events across the country. As we imagined, the dog photos are a huge hit and people very much enjoy the simplicity and clean design of the Dig App.
Of course, the number one piece of negative feedback is that people want to see more users on the app – especially in areas we haven’t officially launched yet. That is why fundraising to scale quickly is very important.
Do you have a sense of what cac looks like to acquire those 16k+ users?
This is where our team really excels. In small trials, our cost of user acquisition through social media advertising has cost between 50 cents and 98 cents per download. Using our events/partnerships/press template going city by city, the cost of each download is about 70 cents but we made the money back through the event and content sponsorships.
We found a truly effective and cost-efficient way to get the word out on a hyper-local level that can be scaled easily with investment.
How will you monetize the platform?
Dig will have four main revenue streams: In-App Advertising, Event Sponsorships, Monthly Subscription Tiers, and Data Packages. Dig’s greatest value is its data, and the number of users directly affects that value. Therefore, in 2018 and 2019 Dig is foregoing opportunities for revenue in exchange marketing.
For example, a company that may normally pay a market-driven price to be featured on the in-app advertising section the “Daily Deal” may be given that feature for free if the company marketed Dig to its users via customer emails, social media marketing, or an otherwise agreed upon method.
You talk about monetizing the data you collect. why is your data valuable and who do you think will be interested in accessing it?
We’re in a unique place to understand how dogs and dog lovers can live healthier, longer, and more joyous lives together. With more data and understanding of how to keep dogs healthier with better food, weight management, teeth cleaning and more we can all benefit from a better understanding of how to take care of our fur babies.
Through Dig, we’re in a better position to understand how doubling a set of resources in a household or time in a day for walks, for example, because of a successful match can affect a dog’s life. Importantly as well, dog-people often crave like-minded communities and the singles segment of the dog-person population now has a new, unique, and valuable way to connect through Dig.
How will advertising work in-app and how do you plan to charge advertisers?
Companies pay to be featured on the app in Dig’s “Daily Deal” section, in a “tip or trick of the day” push notification, or in the “dog-friendly locations” list. Dig offers packages for multiple daily deal, tip or trick of the day, or location list purchases or a single daily deal can be purchased for $125. In 2018 Dig used these feature locations for marketing trades as well as for revenue.
Current in-app advertising packages range from $150 – $1,000 and are listed at DigDates.com/partner. In 2019, Dig will have only one region available for in-app advertising sales. In 2020, Dig plans to begin regionalizing the in-app advertising (for example, US East Coast and West Coast users), and therefore additional daily deals may be sold per day.
Dig also charges charge for branded content that benefits single dog-lovers on the Dig Unleashed blog at DigDates.com/unleashed. A small dog-company in Austin paid for a unique sponsored article written by a Dig content creator, for example. This price will change based on market value and with growing readership.
With vast quantities of capital pouring into pet startups, what are your plans for capital raising?
Dig is seeking $750,000 in investment, $107,000 of which we plan to raise through a Netcapital Offering, in order to strategically and efficiently expand into the 60 million person U.S. online dating market for dog lovers by the end of 2019.
We just opened the Netcapital equity crowdfunding campaign so people can invest as little as $99 in Dig and grow with us! Anyone can invest directly HERE.
We have the enthusiasm of our users and of the press, which helps us get the word out to interested investors. Examples include:
“Casey and Leigh Isaacson, sisters and co-founders of Dig – the dog person’s dating app, have found a way to combine a need and a passion into one app. Dig connects people who own and love dogs to other people who either own or want to own a dog based on their dog preferences.” How This Sister Duo Developed The First Successful Dating App For Dog Lovers – Forbes.com 10/26/18
“If you know getting a dog or merging dog families with a partner in the future is a must for you, get on Dig right now.” – The Best Dating Apps for Your Ultra-Specific Taste – Cosmopolitan Magazine 10/17/18
“If you’re a dog person only looking to date other dog people (which is fair), this is the dating app for you. You don’t have to be a dog owner to use the app, but if you are, you can make a profile for you and your dog, and then filter your potential matches based on whether they have a dog, as well as the size of their dog. It’s definitely one of the most wholesome dating apps out there, which is refreshing, to say the least.” – Refinery29 – 10/18/18The Business Journals
“Signs of a winning startup idea include would-be employees offering to work for free and companies paying for partnership opportunities. Entrepreneur sisters Leigh Isaacson and Casey Isaacson have enjoyed both as they’ve barnstormed the country, introducing their dating app for dog lovers.” – Austin Business Journal – 11/16/2018
Do you see dig exiting via a corporate acquisition or as an ipo?
How will the funds from this round of funding be utilized?
Marketing/Events & Customer Acquisition- Build-out marketing team and brand ambassadors; drive targeted hyper-localized marketing, events, PR, and partnerships. Strategically target all efforts in this area to try to achieve 100,000 active users and maximize advertising and partnership revenues. $228,800
Business Operations & Development- Build-out management team to strategically maximize the growth of company and products. $233,600
Technology Development & Operations- Build-out tech team; continue to advance technology so that it can handle a large volume of users, has advanced functionality, and interface continues to be appealing and user-friendly; develop and maximize valuable data analytics. $197,600
General/Administrative- General and administrative fixed costs to keep the company operational at this level. $90,000
It will be intriguing to see how this team gains traction as they continue to roll out. They have been intelligent in their approach to building their business and we think they have a real opportunity to execute on an intriguing vision.
Will dog lovers learn to date in a whole new way? Only time will tell. Stay tuned to see if this team gets our coveted Top Deal rating.
About: Chris lustrino
A Boston College Eagle for life, on a mission to democratize startup investing for all people at KingsCrowd, with a passion for Fintech, investing, social impact, doing well and doing good, and an avid runner, cyclist and writer.