Woof Together is Defining “Pet Friendly” Hospitality Around the World
From February through May 2021, 8 pet care startups from 5 different countries joined the Leap Venture Studio to enhance their business plans, prepare for fundraising milestones, and establish minimum viable brands. Learn more about each startup and their leaders through our blog series on Cohort 4. We asked each founder questions about their startup journey, who inspires them, and of course a little bit about their pets!
Woof Together (Athens, Greece): Woof Together is an innovative startup setting the standards in pet-friendly hospitality by assessing, certifying, and training pet-friendly hospitality businesses. The travel industry is booming with people wanting to travel with their pets, and simply allowing a pet to stay at your hotel or property is not enough. Woof Together is looking to change that by providing the necessary resources for hotels and properties to give your pet a 5-star experience!
Elena Dede, Co-Founder & CEO:
What inspired you to build your pet care startup?
Elena: When I adopted my dog Tassos, I wanted to bring him along almost in every social activity I attended at the time. Cafes, restaurants, home gatherings, and of course holidays! Most “pet friendly” accommodations did not have their pet policy online or any pet amenities for my dog and I was very nervous about the hospitality experience we will receive when we get there. I understand that this uncertainty disincentivizes many pet parents to travel with their dogs. We founded Woof Together to make the travel industry a better place for pets and the people who love them.
Tell us about any pets you have! How did your relationship with your pet inspire your business?
Elena: Tassos is a rescue dog that I adopted in 2013 and he impacted my life in so many different ways. Because of Tassos I turned vegan in 2014, founded Dogs’ Voice a non-profit organization for the protection of stray animals in Greece in 2015 and started building Woof Together in 2019 so that people like me can travel everywhere with their dogs. Adopting him made me reconsider how all animals should be respected and it was the cause of seeing myself as a petcare entrepreneur. He is 13 years old and still teaches me how to become a better person. My second dog, Jo, was rescued from a garbage bin the day she was born and she is 4 months old now. She has glaucoma and lost her left eye. Since then she has become our superhero “Tiny Pirate Jo”; through her instagram account I learn so many things about the animal kingdom and was inspired to become involved in more animal welfare causes. You might think I am a dog person, but our third pet is Louis, the kindest cat on earth.
Now a few weeks into the Leap Venture Studio, what has been the most beneficial part of the accelerator program?
Elena: Having some of the most outstanding experts in the pet care industry advising us on the services, the user journey and our impact was the most beneficial part of the program. With their support we redesign our website, our impact proposition and we feel supported and confident for what comes next. Leap is the best program for a petcare startup primarily because of its great people, network and community.
What has been an unexpected upside of the pandemic?
Elena: The fact that people across the globe adopted more pets and that the human-pet bond has become stronger than ever! Post pandemic, pets will take a bigger share of our social life activities in a way that all industries will need to adapt. Travel, leisure, activity providers, hospitality, retailers, food and beverage businesses, workplaces, pet parents will need their pets to be properly accommodated and welcomed everywhere.
What are your goals for this year?
Elena: To educate the pet friendly travel industry through the Woof Together Academy, the first online training program for pet friendly hoteliers and hosts and to ultimately transform pet friendly hospitality empower dog parents to take their pets along to their travels. We believe that travel businesses should become more inclusive for pet parents and their pets and Woof Together’s mission is to help them achieve pet friendly excellence.
What is the best movie, podcast, or book you’ve discovered in the past year?
Elena: I recently discovered and absolutely obsessed with the Darknet Diaries, an investigative podcast created by Jack Rhysider, chronicling true stories about hackers, malware, botnets, cryptography, cryptocurrency, cybercrime, and Internet privacy.
What advice would you give to other founders just starting their journey?
Elena: Start where you are with what you have. Building a company is a never ending learning process. To succeed, focus more on the impact your startup makes and all good things will follow.
Join us on Thursday, May 6th at 10am PT for the Leap Venture Studio Demo Day to celebrate these incredible founders that are forging new trails in the $100 billion pet care industry! The event will be streamed through YouTube Live (link coming soon). Each company will present a pitch deck on their company and answer questions in the live chat.