At Tech City News, we’re always keen to shine a light on those who make up the UK’s thriving technology community. This week, we spoke with Rikke Rosenlund, founder and CEO of BorrowMyDoggy, a platform that connects those who have dogs with those who enjoy looking after them. She explained where the idea came from, what’s been most challenging in running her startup and how mentors have helped her to get where she is now.
Q: Where did the idea come from?
I came up with the idea for BorrowMyDoggy in 2012 when I was looking after my neighbour’s dog for the day. During the day I thought to myself there should be a site where dog owners can have their dogs taken care of by people who absolutely adore dogs and miss having a doggy in their life.
All owners need to be away from their pooches sometimes. There’s no need for a doggy to be home alone, to pay for a dog walker on a lovely Sunday or a kennel when there are lots of people, just like me, who adore dogs but unfortunately can’t have them (due to work, travel etc) and would love to take care of doggy for free. In addition to this, it owners and doggies could get to know more people locally and spread lots of happiness.
Q: What’s your background? What were you doing before?
I am originally from Denmark and have been living in the UK for the past 10 years. Prior to this, I lived in various locations, including the US and France, working for corporates and even helped set up a company in Latin America.
I was taught you should make a positive difference to other people’s lives where you can. In keeping with this, I’ve done lots of charity work in the past, including delivering aid in disaster zones after tsunamis, mudslides, and earthquakes.
Q: You co-founded the company with Les Cochrane – how come you didn’t just go it alone?
Les and I met at the startup weekend and when I explained my idea to him, he really bought into it. We shared a vision and we both wanted to make a positive impact on people’s and dog’s lives. Though we had the same vision, we had very different skill sets. With Les’ technical expertise, he was able to bring a huge amount of value with something that I had no experience in.
Q: How is it going? Can you share stats on number of users?
It’s going well, we have more than 400,000 members in our community, with thousands of new people and dogs all across the country joining every week.
Q: Why do you think BorrowMyDoggy is popular?
Dogs make people so happy and we are a nation of dog lovers. Our aim is to to leave ‘Pawprints of Happiness’ on the lives of dogs, and our members are making a positive difference to each others’ lives every day in such a wonderful way, which I think has struck a chord with our lovely community.
Q: Are you looking to raise more funding anytime soon?
We are actually in the process of raising funding in the moment, to grow our community and build out our product. We are raising funding mainly via angel investors.
Q: What has been the most challenging part about setting up your company?
Setting up a company is a series of ongoing challenges and I don’t think I can pinpoint one thing that’s been the most challenging. Whether it’s fundraising or recruitment, acquisition or product development, there is so much to constantly learn and build on. It’s a lot of work, but if you’re passionate about your idea, then it’s totally worth it.
Q: What has been the most enjoyable part about setting up a company?
The most enjoyable part is definitely when we’ve made a difference to people’s and dog’s lives. Seeing the positive impact that our community is having is what gets me out of bed in the morning. Every week we hear the loveliest stories that remind us why we are doing what we are doing! I also love to see how some of our team members have grown and evolved with the company from when we started to where we are now.
BorrowMyDoggy only exists because of our lovely members, the talented team, who are passionate about what we do, and the fantastic help and mentorship that we have received over the years. We are so thankful that with the help of so many we have been able to start and build BorrowMyDoggy.
Q: Have you had any mentors along the way, if so, what have they helped with?
We have had, and still have, so many wonderful and diverse mentors. They’ve helped us with almost every challenge that comes with setting up a company. They’ve not just mentored me personally, but have trained and guided our team as well. In particular, I have to mention Seedcamp, who have supported us from the very beginning.