It’s all about focus and the human touch at JomPaw
By Kiranjit Kaur Sidhu June 19, 2018
- Stringent hiring of pet sitters with only 30% making the cut
- Looking to start an ECF campaign on pitchIN to scale up
STARTING off as a passion project of CEO and co-founder Agnez Lim, JomPaw today offers a host of pet services which include pet boarding, pet-sitting, pet day care, dog walking and dog training.
While pet-sitting simply began as a therapeutic hobby after her golden retriever of 13 years passed away, the growing market demand soon sparked a business idea.
The timing was just right for Lim as she was on a one month break transitioning between jobs, “With increasing demand and after talking to two experienced investors, I realised that there was a real business opportunity in pet services.”
With this, Lim along with two of her friends, Joanne Lee and Ngan Szu Mun, took the plunge and founded JomPaw in January 2017. Being avid pet lovers themselves, JomPaw started with all three founders themselves as pet-sitters in the beginning. "There is a high rate of dissatisfaction in this industry which JomPaw hopes to address," shares Lim.
While still finding their footing in the industry, the founders also explored the opportunity to also offer pet supplies. "We were on the verge of signing contracts with a number of reputable pet food suppliers." However, during this period, JomPaw experienced a prominent dip in their main business of pet-sitting.
Participating in the 500 Startups accelerator in Japan in August 2017 changed their perspective and provided them with great insight. "Our mentors guided us to focus on our primary business, which was still not doing too well, before trying to diversify."
Looking back, the team believes this was the right decision for them as they were still not prepared. JomPaw then participated in the local WTF Accelerator programme to establish local connections and grow the business.
Slowly, the three of them started scaling JomPaw. Ngan shares how, “In the beginning, we approached friends to be our sitters because we needed people we can trust.” As the business grew, the team ventured outside their pool of friends and started to recruit more people.
JomPaw works with customers filling in a booking form online. Following this, the team then matches customers to suitable sitters. Since the matching process is done manually by the founders themselves, the workload can be taxing. "We find ourselves always on our phones communicating with customers. We are very hands-on because the personal touch is important to us."
From the 70% rate of returning customers, it is apparent that customers value the human contact Jompaw emphasises. Furthermore, Jompaw's hiring procedure leaves no room for complacent sitters. “We have a very stringent process in validating the sitters we bring on board,” shares Lee.
Those that apply to be sitters online have to go through an interview process, an online test to assess their knowledge of petcare and in some cases, even home visits to look into the living condition of the pets.
Additionally, sitters need to possess good interpersonal skills and be able to provide regular updates to customers if requested. "We spend 40% of our time interviewing sitters and to date only 30% make the cut and join us," Lim shares.
With the founders having such deep-rooted compassion for pets, it is apparent why JomPaw is dedicated to offering only the best service with the hiring of quality sitters being top priority.
After all, Ngan herself is a pet parent to 12 dogs and four cats. As for Lim, she describes her childhood home as a zoo, “From the moment I was born, I had four St. Bernard dogs as my parents are huge pet lovers. I also had iguanas, birds and even an ant farm.”
With JomPaw's promising potential, the company hopes to raise funds and further scale their business. "We are looking to start an ECF campaign on pitchIN to develop our web platform, hire more resources and also to launch a mass campaign educating the public about our services," says Lim.
Addressing concerns of whether investing will reduce the human touch which customers regard so highly, Lim says "Technology is an enabler to scale our business but we will maintain the personal connection by hiring customer service agents. The human touch is something which defines us and we don't want to lose."