Hello fam! In our effort to stay completely transparent in everything we do, I personally wanted to put out a blog post about all things happening in our world at SPOT!, updates on our future developments and a little reflection on the last 90 days here in Dubai! After all this is YOUR SPOT! so I'd like for you to be a part of everything we do!
Dubai, you have been so kind!
Natasha and I decided to build SPOT! after visiting a few other daycares and figuring we could provide a richer customer experience. When we built our model, we weren't expecting much, 15, maybe 20 events a day (grooms, baths, daycare and some boarding). What we weren't expecting was to drink out of a firehose with over 60 events per day! We wanted to build a model that was accessible, affordable and where individuals had direct access to their caretakers, and you, the Dubai Dog community responded in spades!
For this we are incredibly grateful.
Whats happening now...
We are a little obsessive about every product or service we put out and toil and tinker for months before we put something out that we are 100% satisfied with! The reason for this is, we want it to be the best, simple. We don't want make shift, we don't want half baked, it needs to be 100%, all day, everyday or we won't do it.
An example of this is, we worked for months to perfect our transportation service before we felt it was ready for primetime, working on different driver personalities, different routes and different vehicles until we got the blend just right! Here are a few other things we have been toiling with:
Cameras - In addition to our report cards (another super-fun innovation we toiled with for months before we launched) we feel the cameras are something we absolutely need to get right (because we've seen what wrong looks like!). The cameras are something we have actually had live for months now, and have been toiling with numbers, angles, views, and how they integrate back into our broader owner and customer experience online via your mySPOT account. We think we are a few weeks from getting the coding right to push this forward, but don't want to put anything out until its 100% ready - despite all your not so subtle nudges ;). We will get there and it will be an amazing addition to the customer experience, but its not up to the standard we can currently put our name on! Fun fact though, our cameras helped the Dubai Police in their investigation of a robbery across the street :)
Barsha / Al Quoz - We are looking to expand our current location within the warehouse block we are in. I can't say too much about this until we've finalized our plans but don't be surprised if you come by and we ask you you to head over to Building B ;)
The Garden - Now that the weather is better we are going to be spending more time in the garden, which requires us to give the garden a facelift over the next few days. We will be adding benches, a beautiful canopy and a back grass wall along with ice for water parties!
Internal Building Upgrades - We will be adding fun toys to the small dog room upstairs (Finally!) along with expanding the space further over the next couple of weeks. We will also be adding speakers, customer pictures, and a few other fun surprises to make the building even more woofer and hooman friendly :) Stay tuned to IG for this and a massive thank you to our team at Toil & Tinker for pulling through!
Transport - We're adding a third vehicle for even more pick ups and drop offs! We are interviewing for drivers as we speak!
Whats happening soon...
Future developments are always tough for us because a good portion of this is in our control but then a greater portion isn't. We have been working tirelessly behind the scenes to get a few new locations up and running, Bay Square and JLT primarily. We have started to look into Abu Dhabi as well and think we are close on a location (Hint: it will be wayyyyy bigger than anything we have in Dubai). Some of our locations (which are ideal) are currently occupied by tenants who have chosen not to renew and so its really just a matter of waiting for them to vacate, breaking and building. We are behind where we'd ideally like to be, but I am confident we will make up for the time once we have complete access to our spaces.
We have quite a few amazing future events planned for the Fall at SPOT! including our Halloween and Christmas parties, but some events outside of SPOT! with some of our partners (which I promise you won't want to miss), along with BarkPark. All in its going to be an epic Fall and we can't wait to get into it!
Our own little desert dog!
Ever since landing in Dubai I have been fascinated with the desert dog, the saluki-mix that represents over 40% of our customer base! Pups like Habibi, Toby, Roxy, Foxy and so many other rescues got me thinking, I really need to understand this breed and all its complexities. A few circumstances led us to adopt a young desert saluki mix pup who is now very much a part of our home and lives and I can't wait to learn about all the things within her personality and environment which make her tick like why are they so skittish, or nervous or anxious or so cuddly all at the same time? I'll report back on Madison's (Madi's) progress!
The growing team!
The team has ballooned a bit since we launched with more additions from daycares around Dubai and even though we all come from different places, we are starting to bond like family. We also started paying out equity payments so, judging by the smiles, happy days all around!
The stat I am most proud of!
I am a numbers guy through and through and can't live without really good data. As I look into our business, there are so many little stats that have me incredibly excited like the number of customers we have served, or the number of regulars that show up every single day to widen all our smiles! The number that really got me to stop and think about the impact we are making was the discounts we have given our community to socialize, board, train or groom their woofers in an accessible, affordable, safe environment! In three short months, we have given our community over AED 100,000 in discounts to make socializing a more viable option in their lives! More importantly, over 50% of that came from our Rescue Discount :) As the community grows that number will only compound, and we could not be happier with the impact it is creating.
On the topic of rescues, we've taken on two (Sunny and Goldie) within the first location - trained them, groomed them, helped rehabilitate and market them all for free to help take on some of the burden of the rescue orgs. This by itself has been such a rewarding experience but we are actively looking for opportunities in the coming months to do more.
A little about me
Lastly, a number of you have asked about my background. A little fun fact. The WhatsApp number on our main page is actually my personal number. This is not by accident. I purposely left it on there so you guys have access to me 24/7 for whatever you need. The buck stops with me, and I take that responsibility incredibly seriously! You can reach me for anything you need at any time you need it - or you can call Louise or Meagan, you know whatever :P
I was born and raised in Dubai, so in many respects this is home, but have spent the majority of my adult life in the US! I have a background in Strategy Consulting and Private Equity at PricewaterhouseCoopers, EY and The Boston Consulting Group, and was an early investor in SPOT! I have an MBA from Cornell and a Bachelors from Bentley.
We sold (the majority) of SPOT! in NYC to American Kennel Club in 2017 and I moved to Dubai primarily to have my son really get to know his grandparents but also to continue investing. Our ambition here is sky high and while I believe we have only scratched (and disrupted) the surface, there are a number of antiquated business models within the pets products and services sector which could use some love! I am currently doing a ton of research and building playbooks and theses for every single piece of the pet services sector and there are a few I have my eye on, once the right pieces fall into place! If you have an idea or want to collaborate on an investment, I am all ears!
Stay tuned, we are cooking.