Last summer Marty Kimmel was with friends in Door County when all of a sudden one of them yelled out, “Dog spot!”
Kimmel, a junior at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, was bewildered. Why, he wondered, was his friend so excited to see a dog?
“They told me about Dogspotting, so I went onto Facebook to check it out,” said Kimmel, who grew up in Mequon and attended Milwaukee Jewish Day School as a youngster.
What the heck is Dogspotting?
Kimmel soon discovered that Dogspotting was the name of a Facebook group where people post photos of dogs. Then, members of the group assign points to each photo. The point system is hilariously creative, as are the comments from participants.
Kimmel grew up with dogs and considers himself a dog person; not surprisingly he enjoyed Dogspotting. He also realized it could be improved.
“I recognized that the people in the group could use a different platform that would allow them to take part in the game in an easier manner,” he said. “I realized a mobile app would work better than [uploading photos] straight to Facebook.”
Kimmel, who is doggedly pursuing a bachelor’s degree in management and human resources (with entrepreneurial emphasis), worked for a few app-building startups during his freshman and sophomore years. He knew a thing or two about app development from the business side. He decided to offer his services.
“I reached out to [the Dogspotting administrators] on Facebook and left a message about creating an app,” he said. “That got the conversation started. By late 2015 I joined the team, and in January 2016 we incorporated.”
As the chief technology officer, Kimmel oversees usability development of the app, and provides technical and startup experience. After only three months, Kimmel’s project-management skills boosted Dogspotting mobile by a howling 10,000 new users.
Working like a dog
Kimmel puts in about 10- to 15-hours per week working with Dogspotting, in addition to being a full-time student. Because Dogspotting executives live in different cities across the country, most of the work is conducted remotely, but he also promotes Dogspotting on college campuses and in person.
“I tell all my friends about it,” he said. “I’m known as the ‘Dogspotting guy’ among my friends.”
Sniffing out new users and profits
Dogspotting is particularly popular in Madison .— probably because Kimmel can market in person — but it’s also popular in New York City, Boston, and internationally in London and Melbourne, Australia.
The Dogspotting app is free. The company earns money through the sale of merchandise. Dogspotting isn’t turning a profit yet, but Kimmel says they plan to do in-app advertising and maybe down the road become a marketing tool for a large pet brand.
Happy like a dog with two tails
Kimmel said the most rewarding thing about working with Dogspotting is knowing people all over the world are using and enjoying the app.
“It’s fun to be able to make peoples’ lives happier around the world on a daily basis.”