As part of our interview series called “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became A Founder,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Aparna Srinivasan.
Aparna Srinivasan, founder of SpotOn.Pet, an innovative ride-hailing transportation company in the pet tech world, sits down with us to discuss her journey as a founder. SpotOn.Pet is turning heads and changing the lives of pet parents with their breakthrough-technology, allowing pet parents to ride with their pets with ease! From their Pet Friendly and Pet-Only Rides, to their Partnership with innovative startups such as, Hound Honey, for a White Glove experience, the ride service continues to impress and take the industry by storm!
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been interested in unleashing my innovative side and solving problems. The context of the problem didn’t matter as the real fun for me was figuring out a solution. As I grew older, I learned solutions don’t happen overnight. The chase of figuring out those solutions made me so happy I became a full time entrepreneur. After building many successful companies, I had the opportunity to create one app in particular that has become my pride and joy. The app goes by the name of SpotOn.Pet App and it is a ride-hailing transportation app for pets and pet-parents. The app connects you with trusted drivers that will take your pet anywhere, with or without you being present. As a startup founder, I’m always on the lookout for hacks to make life easier and I know from experience, solution-oriented products and inventions are received well from consumers. I was inspired to create SpotOn.Pet after constantly being rejected by Uber, Lyft and taxi drivers when I had my dogs with me. I knew there had to be a better, more convenient way to travel with my canine companions and after doing a lot of due diligence, SpotOn.Pet was born.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?
Being a founder is lonely. Oftentimes, you are the only one who believes in what you are doing and understands how much risk is at stake. One of the hardest challenges a founder will face is building a supportive team who feels your passion, understands the company’s vision, is willing to make necessary sacrifices and most importantly, believes so deeply in the mission and product they want to help it come to life. Until you build that supportive foundation (and even once you do) your journey will be very hard and have moments of extreme loneliness.
Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
Growing and sharing the SpotOn.Pet app has become my focus. I never stop thinking about its expansion as it is so much more than a passion project or hobby for me. This app is a powerful tool that has revolutionized the way pet parents travel with their two-legged, four-legged (and no-legged) furry and scaly family members. I’ve always been a huge animal lover and advocate. Growing up, I had many pets and my parents’ raised me to treat our pets as family members. The unbreakable bond and love I have for my dogs (and now pig) is the reason I do what I do. I am on a mission to make pet parenting easier for all.
A lot of wonderful things are happening for SpotOn.Pet right now including a new partnership with a pet concierge service. Currently, on the SpotOn.Pet app, we offer pet only rides. This is where the owner/charged handler does not need to accompany the pet(s) during the ride. There’s also a new personal concierge feature in the app many working pet parents in the Big Apple, our homebase, are excited about. New Yorkers and New Jersey residents can now schedule a pet friendly or pet-only ride while reaping the benefits of a personal concierge through our pet concierge partner, Hound Honey. The partnership with Hound Honey will allow us to provide a White Glove service option for customers. The White Glove service experience is top notch and we’ve already received so much positive feedback from our users! Essentially, a qualified Hound Honey Pet Concierge will come to your door and “pick-up” your pet, safely load your pet into a SpotOn.Pet car and accompany the pet to its appointment. Following that, your pet will be unloaded, taken inside and the assigned concierge stays until the appointment is over to do the return. Another great benefit of this partnership is if you need to get your pet to the airport for a trip, our team can handle the check-in of the pet while you are checking in at your gate. And, Hound Honey can use our service to take their clients on excursions such as, a day hike or a beach trip.
So, how are things going today? How did grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
There’s so much room at the top and we’re just getting started here at SpotOn.Pet. Our programming is currently available on the east coast and our team is hard at work looking for opportunities to expand us to the west coast and beyond. I’m extremely proud of how far we’ve come and the impact we’ve made in the pet industry. We’ve got a ton to learn and a lot more growing to do but we’re excited for each new step we take on this journey! The drivers at SpotOn.Pet are the backbone of this company. They’re loyal, dedicated and extremely passionate about growing together. I have so much love for them and I’m extremely grateful for their participation and support.
I’m excited to share that we are raising our second round of funding which will be used to hire! To date, all of the moves we’ve made have been on a shoestring budget. It’s time to put this car in hyper-drive. We’re excited to see what the future holds as we plan to expand to other major metro areas not just in the US, but across the Globe. In fact, we just closed $200K from a European Investment Syndicate, Upscalers. With their help, we can now move into foreign markets!
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Recently, I was invited to be a guest on a morning television show to talk about SpotOn.Pet. This interview in particular was pretty exciting as it was the first time I would be accompanied by my pet pig, Anjali and my dog, Krishna! Let’s just say the show didn’t go as planned. Anjali decided it was time to nap, and so, he did just that. In the end, it all worked out and Anjali now has more fans than ever before. What this experience reinforced for me is that no matter how hard you prepare, things will not always go your way and of course, your pet pig might want to take a nap at the most inconvenient times.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Since launching the app, the company has had great success with a 103% increase in rides between 2020 & 2021 as well as 80% of all rides being pet-only rides in 2021. Much of this success comes from the philanthropic work we do with local rescues such as Muddy Paws, Badass Brooklyn, and Rescue Dogs Rock NYC. We also pride ourselves on the care we have for our core customers, the pets! At the end of the day, it’s all about their safety and comfort. We want the experience to be enjoyable and convenient for pet parents too, but most importantly, we want them to know they are in great, loving hands.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Ask for help! The answer is pretty simplistic but oftentimes overlooked and overthinked. Here’s the truth, you never want to be the smartest person in the room. Surround yourself with creatives who are willing and able to lift you higher and share their wisdom. Don’t think you can or should do it all yourself. Burnout is a real thing and you want to avoid it at all costs. Having a supportive team by your side and in your corner is priceless!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
My parents were the first two people to ever believe in me and truly show me what hard work looked like. They’re my mentors still to this day and most likely, will always be my biggest cheerleaders. Being animal lovers, my parents love the idea of having SpotOn.Pet continue to evolve in order to reach more and more users on an international level. They’ve been big fans of the concept since day one and are always ready for a brainstorm session!
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
We’re always finding new, innovative ways to help the pet community. One of our most exciting initiatives is called, “Take a ride, Save a life.” It’s simple, you take a ride with us and use a code from one of our partner rescue, foster and/or adoption organizations and in turn, we give a FREE ride to that group. The group can then take an adoptable pet to find their forever home. One of the inspirations behind launching this program stemmed from hearing many of our organization partners tell us many pets don’t get adopted because they don’t have transportation to physically get to an adoption event. With SpotOn.Pet, that problem is solved.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1. It’s very lonely. As a solo founder, everything rests on your shoulders. You have to have the determination to succeed and be willing to sacrifice a lot.
2. Date your investors and advisors! You will be working with these people a lot and you need to ensure you work well together as a team and share the same vision.
3. Don’t just take money. Look for investors that will bring more than money to the table such as knowledge, experience, a valuable network, etc.
4. Take your blinders off. Think outside the box and think around the box. “Problem solver” will become your middle name and innovation is key!
5. Don’t just set the example, but BE the example! Be ready to live and breathe your company’s mission.
Can you share a few ideas or stories from your experience about how to successfully ride the emotional highs & lows of being a founder”?
Being a startup founder is like going on a rollercoaster. Ups and downs are a part of the game and will lead you to your next stop on this beautiful journey. Staying grounded and knowing what is most important to you should be a priority . For me, my faith and passion is what keeps me going. Don’t make the mistake of having the mentality of, “get rich quick” or think you are going to, “ have so much freedom,” as 80% of startups fail.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to pets and people, what would that be?
In order to expand the reach of our “Take a ride, Save a life” give-back initiative and national movement, we need to align with partners who share the same passion for animals as we do. Subaru is a company we feel strongly about aligning with as their deep love for pets and animal welfare truly shows they are more than just a (fantastic) car company. According to the ASPCA®, each year approximately 6.3 million companion animals enter shelters. Just like Subaru, SpotOn.Pet is committed to helping all animals — including those in shelters — stay safe and healthy. The more pets we can save together, the happier the world will be.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Stay up by checking out https://www.spoton.pet/.