App set to help pet lovers find their way

MATTHEW HIRSCH

A Vredehoek resident has developed an app for pet lovers looking for information about pet-friendly establishments.

Shani Judes, who has a background in photography, said she first started toying with the idea during a road trip back from Durban, to Cape Town.

”It was really hard to find all the information that we needed such as dog-friendly accommodation and restaurants en route. I was chatting to a friend about it last year in Sea Point and the idea for an app for dog owners came up.”

And so began DoggyDo.

Ms Judes said she looked around to see if there were similar apps, but found none.

In March last year she got to work on the app, and notes:“I did all the design and my model was to get content on the app so that it was something dog owners would want to use and keep on their phones.”

Of her relationship with dogs, Ms Judes said when she turned 10, she got a dog for her birthday. It was named Rex.

Living in small flats for most of her older life, however, meant it was difficult to have a pet.

“I haven’t had the chance to have a dog ‘cause I’ve been living in small flats. In November last year, we got a dog called Bennett and this is my first dog in my adult-life.”

Ms Judes said she spent a lot of time researching all the dog-friendly establishments, including asking friends on Facebook and other community groupings about their favourite dog-friendly places.

She also received many recommendations from fellow dog owners via email. “They can see the benefit to have this information in the palm of your hand.”

The app was eventually launched in June last year.

“Initially I just pushed the app on Facebook because I didn’t have a marketing budget,” she said.

“That was also fascinating because I was like ‘great I’ve got this app and it’s going to go viral.’ (But), you need a marketing budget.”

She said she considers herself as a developer and not a coder and that there are app platforms online which you can use to create your own apps. “It’s great for the future of that space.”

She said the response to the app so far had been “amazing and inspiring”.

“Everyday I’m getting a message or comment saying thank you and how much it is going to change the dog-caring space and how user-friendly it is.”

Ms Judes says the app has just been downloaded more than 3 000 times, which is good going for the South African App Store. “It’s a difficult space to work in cause we don’t really download a lot of apps.”

She said to have your apps listed in the App Store, you have to pay an annual fee, in dollars.

After paying a fee you get a licence to become a developer. However, despite all the challenges faced by local developers, among them the rand-dollar exchange rate, she sees the app space growing. “I’ve already had a lot of people contact me about helping them make apps. It’s about us customising our devices to have we want at our finger tips.”

Her next step, she said, is to monetise the app, which she plans to do by getting the currently listed businesses on the app to pay to remain listed.

NGOs, parks, trails and beaches, said, Ms Judes, will all be listed for free.

The app is available for free on the iTunes and Google Play app store.