Having people (especially kids) join others on their walk/run with their dogs can motivate people that can’t have pets to stay in shape.
I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria and terms of the Purina BetterwithPets Prize and, based on its description, I am eligible to apply:
Yes, I’m eligible
Yes, I’m 18 years old or older
Should you be successful, please confirm your availability to attend:
Additional Skype interview(s) during the week of March 16-20th 2020
Initiative's representative name
Elwin van Oldenborgh
Initiative's representative date of birth
Initiative's representative gender
Headquarters location: country
Headquarters location: city
Where are you making a difference?
Website or social media url(s)
fb: Elwin van Oldenborgh
Enhance physical activity and wellness
Re-imagining the role of pets in society
What is your current yearly budget for the initiative? If you are an idea stage, what early budget you would need to kick-off and run operations in your first year?
nonprofit/NGO: an organisation that uses its resources to achieve a purpose outside of creating profit
youth-led initiative: organisations, whether informal or formal, created and led primary by young people
1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this project to succeed.
Since a lot of people wear fitness trackers nowadays and these trackers not only motivate them to do exercise through statistics, but also through a community that the company behind the tracker provides I thought that pets could be an even better motivator for people to get fit. Especially children would love to run with a dog and would be motivated to get into better shape to be able to keep up even when the dog is not there. Since everyone uses their smartphones for everything I think there’s enough dog owners out there that would be willing to let people join on their walks / runs.
2. The problem: What problem are you helping to solve?
Obesity is one of the biggest challenges facing our current society. Especially in less wealthy neighbourhoods where parents have to work a lot and don’t have time or money to take children to sports clubs, and unhealthy food is usually cheaper than healthy food this problem is huge.
3. Your solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.
Since people in less healthy neighbourhoods are also less likely to be able to afford a pet to go running with, having this app could help them connect with dog owners that they could tag along with. By having a system where you can sign up as a dog owner or a non-dog owner you can be paired with the other.
As a dog owner you’ll be asked to provide information like: breed of dog, walking pace (from stroll to fast run), maximum amount of people that you’d want to join on the walk/run, if kids can join, time of run and departure point.
The non-dog owners will be asked about running pace, availability time wise and how large of a group they’d like to participate in, after which they can see a map of starting points with time and a picture of the dog in question. They can also add their kids to their own profile if they want them to tag along as well.
After going for a run together a couple of times users can form a private group in which they can send messages to do all sorts of things, from running to also social meet-ups (for which not everyone needs to be present). Using this users will have an incentive to keep coming back to the app.
4. Innovation: How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solve the problem?
Especially the motivation through anonymous user data will be able to motivate people to do their daily exercise: if they see that 50 people in their area have already gone for a run that day they’ll be more incentivised to also go for a run, and with the ability to create groups there will be a social contract of sorts to keep coming back to this group.
Ideally a sort of map would also be created with pictures of dogs and times they go for walks.
5. How does your project harness the pet-human bond to help people develop important social competencies (For example: emotional intelligence, collaboration, empathy, resilience, inclusivity) and overcome serious societal issues (for example: violence, abuse, trauma, isolation, abandonment)?
Since users from the same neighbourhood get paired this can create a sense of community not only between the people that run together, but also between these people and the one dog, which can also turn into a support network if something happens to either the owner or the dog itself. Also since so much of our lives happens online nowadays, it’s good to have an online platform that connects people in real life (just like Pokemon GO still does in a lot of places).
6. Impact: how has your project made a difference so far in terms of both business outputs and social impact? How do you plan on measuring progress?
Since the idea consists of an online platform, user metrics can be very easily found and analysed to see how many people use the app, how far they run with it etc. User retention is the most important metric, as exercise is something that should be done every day, not just whenever people feel like it.
7. Growth strategies: what are your main strategies for scaling your impact?
Dissemination can be done with a 2 stage roll out: firstly promoting the idea in a community where it can make an impact to see how it works as a sort of beta test can help iron out the kinks and provide valuable promotional material for a worldwide rollout. After a worldwide rollout, promotional material can be created from communities all over the world. However word of mouth is always the best advertisement, which means the app needs to be user friendly and encourage people to share their experiences with their friends in person.
8. Creating shared value: How does your initiative create value for different stakeholders?
With a wide user base local events can be held and promoted through the app to bring together multiple running communities in a bigger event, which can help make more connections between different groups and layers of society and are also a chance for stakeholders to connect with the actual users of the project on a personal level.
9. Financial sustainability plan: can you tell us about your plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?
Since an app platform is not super expensive, having a branded app with for example purina on the splashscreen would be able to fund the app platform itself. For the local events local sponsors could be found in addition to the companies invested in the project.
10. Team: what is the current composition of your team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.), and how do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the project grows?
A team of developers should be combined with social scientists to make sure that the app works, is easy to use and has a maximal impact on users.
11. How do you plan to influence your field of work if you are a winner of this edition of the Purina BetterwithPets Prize?
As a veterinary student I hope that this initiative would not only better the health of humans by getting more exercise, but would also ensure that the dogs would get more exercise as well, as research has shown that exercise is as important for dogs as it is for humans.
12. How did you hear about this challenge?
13. Example: Please walk us through one or two concrete examples of how your solution will solve the problem you’re trying to address.
Imagine a family in a less than wealthy neighbourhood, both parents working full time and children in school. Because there’s no money for a sports club / gym membership, so most nights are spent in front of the television. The whole family is a bit overweight and would like todo something about it. Through FidoFit they see that an owner only 1 street away goes for a walk with his Labrador every night on a time that fits the family. They decide to try walking along one night and meet another family that has been doing the same thing for 2 weeks already. Over the coming weeks the 3 families talk and bond more, spend evenings together, cooking food before going for a walk with the whole group. Over time the walks have become longer and sometimes even turn into rund and the whole group can feel themselves getting more fit. Because they are eating together 2-3 times a week there’s more time to cook healthy food as well and larger groups mean less costs overall.
14. Mutual Benefit: Explain how your project mutually benefits the pets involved – how is the pet not only used as tool?
Because of people walking with the pet getting more fit, the people will be motivated to go for longer walks, maybe even runs, which will benefit the pet as well as it can get more fit as well. Besides this benefit, when the owner of the pet or the pet becomes ill there will be a support network which can help take care of both of them, benefitting both of them as well.
15. Marketplace: Who else is addressing this problem in your environment? How does your proposed project differ from these other approaches?
There is currently a product on the market (fitbark) that serves as a fitness tracker for pets, trying to motivate the owners to get more fit by connecting the owner’s and pet’s fitness trackers. This idea differs in that it’s not just for owners, but also for the whole community that the owners and pets live in by connecting them.
16. Tell us about how collaborations and partnerships would enhance the scalability and impact of your project.
This idea could partner up with fitness companies to organise on location events for owners, pets and their running buddies. This could give more visibility to the project and attract new people.
Partnerships could also be formed with veterinarians, for example organising information nights or having flyers advertising the product in the clinic, as this is a project to improve both human and pet health.
19. Financial Sustainability (OPTIONAL): Please tell us more about how you plan to fund and scale your project, include an attached document with your detailed business plan or other equivalent information. (This information will NOT be shared with your fellow contestant, it will only be visible to you and internal Prize reviewers).
Funding will mainly have to come through corporate partners. Income could come through organising local events, which could also boost local businesses.
In the app itself partnerships could be formed with for example pet food businesses, who could promote their food in certain sections to the owners of the pets.