Silicon Valley and the tech industry is involved in a burgeoning love affair with dogs, pouring money into it, and we've starting covering the new gizmos to hit the market for canines.
We've got a new one: Swifto, based in New York City. The startup raised $2.5 million from Benchmark Capital last year and is poised to disrupt the world of dog walkers, which is dominated by small operators.
The problem with dog walkers, such that there is one, is that you rely on the word of the dog walker to walk the dog, which can be a gamble. Enter Swifto, a dog-walking service currently in New York City. Its walkers are fully vetted and interviewed, each completing a test and ... enough about that. That's not what makes Swifto cool.
It's this: When one of Swifto's walkers takes your pup out on the streets, you get a text message. Then, you can track the walk on a live map on your mobile phone, via GPS tracking. Imagine: You can watch your dog on a walk, heading down streets, taking a right here, and a left there, then stopping at the dog park, then heading for home. Swifto will also send you photos of your dog on the walks.
Here's what might be the best part, for a certain sort of person: When your dog poops, you will get a "poop alert," along with a text message that says, "Your dog has just pooped."Who wouldn't love getting a text like that?
The service also offers other neat things. If your dog needs to be run and not walked, Swifto can calculate the dog’s average speed down to fractions of a mile per hour, for example.
The New York Times recently took Swifto on a test run and reported a positive experience. The dog walker assigned to the writer, Meredith, said she never sent pictures of a dog's poop, but she has done other things: “When a dog has been sick, I have sent pictures of vomit. The owner found it very helpful.”
The Times says the cost of Swifto is line with the industry -- $20 per half-hour walk if you sign up with the service. According to an article by TechCrunch, sales are expected to reach $1 million this year, and the company plans to expand to Boston by the end of the year as well as Chicago and San Francisco in 2014.
I know there is already technology here in SoCal that allows dog walkers to essentially check in electronically when they get to your home and check out as they leave. Each swipe will send a text to you, so you know when your dog is being tended to.
I can't wait to see how the technology evolves around this ever-growing industry.