The pet industry is a huge, fragmented market more often associated with old-fashioned dog-loving fun than tech-savvy professionals. For passionate business owners in the space (from dog walkers and groomers to vets, training companies and shelters), finding the right, pet-loving talent is difficult. Up until now, the major way to find pet-focused jobs was dominated by Craigslist. Jamie Migdal, a 20-year veteran in the pet-industry with many successful businesses under her belt (including CanineLink, AnimalSense Canine Training and Out-U-Go), thinks that’s a problem.
Enter Chicago-based FetchFind, a platform that helps connect companies and employees in the pet industry. Midgal launched the beta site less than a month ago and expects the full-site to be ready by January.
FetchFind's CEO and founder Jamie Midgal.
Migdal started her first pet company – a dog walking service – back in 1995 with $150 from her one-bedroom apartment. She grew the company to 20 employees and 2,200 clients before selling it in 1999. She has since founded another three businesses and says the number one lesson she’s learned is that the right people matter. “Your team is everything. Period. End of story,” said Migdal.
It’s not an easy task either. Over the past three years, working with her educational consulting company (targeted at pet-companies, of course), she realized a major pain point was finding the right talent. She had companies calling her up and asking for referrals. Looking at the sad state of the market (no offense to Craigslist), she “realized there was a digital opportunity,” Midgal said.
Midgal says the barriers to entry for pet-businesses are low, using her first dog-walking company as an example. Her clients, many of them first-time entrepreneurs, ask her how to find good people and how to recognize true passion. For those on the other side, people looking for a new job or a career switch, they needed more information on how to get into the business.
“There’s no one place for people to come and learn about the opportunities and leverage their experience or get more education. So I was trying to make a hub for that,” said Midgal.
“This is the trend for hiring and HR, industry specific sources,” said Midgal.
She points to legal and culinary websites that have popped up to better serve those industries. FetchFind is taking advantage of that trend to help an industry Midgal loves, and that desperately needs a better way to find, engage and retain the best talent. By getting specific, and having the companies on the site be clear about exactly what skills they need, the talent problem can work itself out.
FetchFind employs a “badge” system that allows potential employees to show off their skillset. The platform uses algorithms so companies spend less time searching for the perfect candidate, and more time on the day-to-day operations of their business. Midgal expects the badge system to be a major differentiator for the site.
Her idea seems to be working. Having launched the beta platform less than a month ago, she already has 280 companies on board with 700 on the waiting list. Why a waiting list? FetchFind wants to make sure her product is 100 percent perfect before opening it up more widely. Still, those numbers speak volumes. Feedback has been good too. “Honestly our customers are so thrilled,” said Midgal.
For FetchFind, their ambitions are more than just employee-employer matching. They want to be the go-to site for anything in the pet-industry space. Under Midgal’s leadership, the team has extensive experience and industry knowledge. She plans to share this by building out their content section, with information ranging from best in practice to career tips.
The FetchFind team at a recent pet-expo in Chicago.
FetchFind has a small team with four full-time staff and a handful of part-time employees, but she “can’t wait” to add more staff. Specifically, FetchFind will be looking for sales and marketing roles. The company raised $385,000 in a friends and family round and is now looking for an additional $1.1 million in funding. The revenue stream will initially come from job posts, but they are in “stealth mode” for other pet-specific industry solutions. Services for potential employees are free.
FetchFind’s office is of course, pet friendly. Hardly a day goes by without one furry friend showing up.