Friends for Pets

Connecting pet-owners and pet-lovers, so pets are always in company of someone who loves them and can take care of them without limit

Photo of Carlos Escobar
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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
  • The Purina BetterwithPets Forum in Paris, on 3-4th of June 2020

Initiative's representative name

Carlos Escobar

Initiative's representative date of birth


Headquarters location: country

  • UAE

Headquarters location: city


Where are you making a difference?


Website or social media url(s)

LinkedIn: Instagram: @therealfortunatogram

Focus Areas

  • Promote inclusivity
  • 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?

  • €10k - €50k

Organisation Type

  • hybrid: a combination of different types of organisations, such as a social enterprise (an organisation that applies commercial strategies to maximize improvements in human and environmental well-being)
  • 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.

A couple of months back, one of my colleagues asked me to take care of his dog while he was away on holiday, as he didn't want to put it in a daycare, which are scarce and expensive in Dubai. I had no problem to take care of Fortunato, as my colleagues' dog is called, since I love dogs. During my daily walks with Forti, as I like to call him, people would approach me if they could pet and play with him. After repeated interactions such as the one mentioned, I realized that there are people out there who love dogs more than I do and are willing to host them and pet them. This situation got me thinking on how there isn't a platform in Dubai in which pet-lovers, who don't own any pet, are able to interact with pet-owners.

2. The problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Animals are at the core of this idea since I believe that they should be treated as any human. Therefore, given that many of the pet owners in Dubai have a busy lifestyle, they do not spend enough time with dogs. While some are busy, there are others who are lonelier lives and would like to spend time with animals. I'd like to minimize the time animals are alone, as this has an impact on their well being, behavior, and life span.

3. Your solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

The idea tries to connect pet-owners with pet-lovers who are not able to afford or have an animal in Dubai due to accommodation restrictions. Whether this means spending time with an animal for half-day to multiple days, this idea would give animals the opportunity to have more human interaction in a city that is as hectic as the big metropolis of the world. Additionally, given that there is an ability and willingness to pay for such service in the market, this platform would give an opportunity to animal lovers to have an additional source of income while doing an activity which they love.

4. Innovation: How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solve the problem?

I'm aware that proposing a platform to connect pet-owners with pet-lovers is not something revolutionizing. Yet, I like thinking of Innovation as doing things in a new way that adds value. In Dubai, such platform doesn't exist and people usually have to be calling friends or pet-shops to host their animals. This platform, or app as I envision it, would be the first of its kind in Dubai, which in turn would facilitate the lives of animals, pet-owners, and pet-lovers: a win-win-win for all.

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)?

As mentioned earlier, Dubai can be quite a hectic yet lonely city not only for humans but also for pets. This platform would offer a place where people could connect with one another, improve the lives of each other (i.e. some people feel better when they're in the company of an animal), and more importantly, it would be improving the lives of dogs. Some people tend to get animals because they think it's trendy or cool to have them. They, however, do not treat them in the way they should be treated. Just like any human, animals need food, water, shelter, security, communication and health in addition to love and company. This idea aims to bring the entire pet community together in one place in such a way that has ripple effects in the local community.

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?

We plan to measure business success in three ways. First, we would like to have a decent number of pet owners on-board of our platform during its first year. According to the Euromonitor 2019 report on Pet Care, there are currently 72.5k dogs in the UAE, assuming dog population is proportionate to that of each Emirate, there are 23.9k dogs in Dubai. We would ideally like to have 1% of the dogs on-boarded in our platform in the first six months of operations. Second, we would like to connect with at least 4 key players in the ecosystem that could disseminate our platform in the community. These players include but are not limited to Dubai Pet Shop, the largest pet store in Dubai, and the Kennel Center of the country. Lastly, we would like to have a first MVP of the platform up and running before the end of year, so selected users can begin using it during the upcoming holiday season.

7. Growth strategies: what are your main strategies for scaling your impact?

In the medium-term, I hope to launch the platform in Dubai Marina, one of the areas with the largest concentration of animals in Dubai. We would then roll-out the platform in residential areas such as The Greens and The Meadows. In the long-term, we hope to roll out this platform in other Emirates such as Dubai. This plan would be supported by creating in parallel a strong ecosystem of players who could support us in this expansion.

8. Creating shared value: How does your initiative create value for different stakeholders?

As mentioned, we would like to create value for three stakeholders: (1) Animals - minimize the time of loneliness by spending time with different individuals who love their company; (2) Pet Owners - minimize the feeling of guilt for leaving their pets alone due to their busy lifestyles; (3) Pet Lovers - maximize their happiness by spending time with someone they love while generating; an additional source of income.

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?

In the short-term, we would like to kickstart our idea with a grant awarded through a competition. In parallel, we will invest some of our personal income and savings while conducting crowdfunding exercises with friends and family. In the medium term, we will participate attempt to enter in incubation and accelerator programs that could fund us and create a pricing mechanism in which we generate revenue. In the long-term, once we have attained the desired outcomes and traction in the market, we will engage Venture Capitalists in Dubai to fund us and scale-up operations.

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?

I have began shaping a top-tier team starting with a dog, Fortunato and myself who are supported by: Davide Capitanio, Innovation Strategy and Ventures Lead for Accenture Middle: responsible for advising with the growth, go-to-market, and ecosystem strategy; Marta Cardinalli, incoming Visual Merchandising at Louis Vuitton: responsible for Marketing and Branding. We're still searching for a developer locally based who develop platform and local partner who can help us understand better market.

11. How do you plan to influence your field of work if you are a winner of this edition of the Purina BetterwithPets Prize?

In the last couple of months, Accenture focused on emphasizing the need of conducting business and innovation with purpose that has positive impact on society. By winning the Purina BetterwithPets Prize, I will be a living example on how placing purpose and impact on society at the center of a business idea can kickstart new ideas. I also commit to participating in local events, thanks to my connections in the ecosystem, in which I could speak about my story and relationship of the Purina BetterwithPets Prize.

12. How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Article in the news

13. Example: Please walk us through one or two concrete examples of how your solution will solve the problem you’re trying to address.

Think about it in this way. There's a consultant who needs to travel to Saudi Arabia for client work, forcing her to live her pet alone. Moreover, none of her close friends or acquaintances are able to take her pet, which stresses the pet owner. At the other end of this, there is someone who's trying to find a way to generate an extra source of income and is looking for side gigs. One of his passions is pets and wouldn't mind taking care of one in this precise moment. Now, imagine that the pet owner has a medium where she can ask if there's anyone who can take care of her pet. The guy at the other end can see this post and send a request to take of it. In this way, the consultant finds someone to take care of the pet while the guy at the other end, who's a pet lover, makes some revenue while pursuing his passion.

14. Mutual Benefit: Explain how your project mutually benefits the pets involved – how is the pet not only used as tool?

Following the example above, if the consultant were not able to find someone to take care of the dog, she'd either have to live the pet alone or at a pet shop that doesn't really give attention to the pet. This in the long-term would traumatize the pet since there wouldn't be anyone who genuinely cares about it. This solution is not about alleviating pet-owners stresses or finding a way for pet-lovers to generate money while doing something they love. On the contrary, it's a pet-centric solution that focuses on the long-term mental health of pets. Some animals, such as dogs, if left alone can be traumatized for life as they'd fill abandon. The benefits to humans are just a value add, but the solution is being developed in thinking about dogs.

15. Marketplace: Who else is addressing this problem in your environment? How does your proposed project differ from these other approaches?

As noted during the original application, this solution is not really innovative, but unfortunately there isn't any startup or organization that is truly trying to save this problem or have a ripple effect on the stakeholders involved in this particular process. At the very most, you can just think of some pet-shops that sit dogs while their owners are away. Nevertheless, there is not platform that connects pet lovers with pet owners.

16. Tell us about how collaborations and partnerships would enhance the scalability and impact of your project.

We would try to target the whole ecosystem of pets in order to ensure maximum reach: - Pet Shops - Pet Owners through Facebook Groups - Pet Friendly Establishments, such as restaurants and parks The above is a non-exhaustive list.

Evaluation results

2 evaluations so far

1. OVERALL Evaluation

Yes, absolutely! - 0%

Yes/maybe - 50%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 50%

No - 0%

2. Is this entry INNOVATIVE?

Yes, absolutely! - 0%

Yes/maybe - 0%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 100%

No - 0%

3. Does this entry have SOCIAL IMPACT?

Yes, absolutely! - 0%

Yes/maybe - 50%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 50%

No - 0%

4. Does this entry have potential to GROW & demonstrate LEADERSHIP?

Yes, absolutely! - 0%

Yes/maybe - 50%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 50%

No - 0%

5. Is this entry VIABLE?

Yes, absolutely! - 0%

Yes/maybe - 50%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 50%

No - 0%


Yes, absolutely! - 0%

Yes/maybe - 50%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 50%

No - 0%

7. FEEDBACK – Highlights

INNOVATION: You have a great understanding of the problem, have researched existing solutions, and have developed unique, thoughtful new solutions or used an old model in a new way - 0%

IMPACT: You use specific numbers and evidence to describe what your project has achieved so far (or plan to achieve in the future) and you have a plan for measuring impact - 0%

GROWTH & LEADERSHIP POTENTIAL: You have a thoughtful plan for growth and your founding team has a strong combination of leadership and knowledge-based skills - 100%

VIABIBLITY: You have given a great deal of thought to not just the idea itself but how to make it work from a financial perspective in the present and future - 0%

CHANGEMAKING ACTIVATION: You value thinking around how to activate changemakers and empower them to innovate through your product or programming - 0%

POTENTIAL TO CREATE SHARED VALUE: You have a clearly defined plan on how to maximize shared value across multiple sectors and stakeholders - 0%

WRITING STYLE: Your writing style is concise, descriptive, clear, and specific - 0%

Other option - 0%

8. FEEDBACK - Areas for Improvement

INNOVATION: Be more specific in your description of the research you have done into the past solutions to this problem and focus on how your solution is unique and innovative - 100%

IMPACT: Provide specific instances of your social impact and how you plan to measure impact – it may be helpful to describe the beneficiaries, products and programming, and provide evidence of (or plan for) how to measure impact - 100%

GROWTH & LEADERSHIP POTENTIAL: Your plan for growing the organization can benefit from more specifics. How can you round out the various skills of your current leadership team to make the project a long-term success? - 0%

VIABILITY: Make sure you have provided descriptive information about your financial sustainability plan. Where do the funds come from now and do you have a concrete plan for future sustainability? - 100%

POTENTIAL TO CREATE SHARED VALUE: Your plan can benefit from more thought on how to create value for all stakeholders, not just immediate beneficiaries - 0%

WRITING STYLE: Try to be more concise, descriptive, clear, and specific. Avoid jargon - 0%

Nothing – I thought everything was great! - 0%

Other option - 0%


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