Ever wanted to have a dog but know you can't because you don't have enough space or you have a busy job that means it's kept home alone a lot. Meet Rikke, the young passionate Dane connecting people in the UK and Ireland to 4 legged friends through BorrowMyDoggy. She talks about her drive to create positive impact through the platform and build a friendly community that's keeping people and canines happy and healthy along the way. Read on, this woman has got packs of passion....
1. What drove you to create BorrowMyDoggy?
It all started five years ago when I borrowed Aston, my neighbour’s beautiful Labrador, for the day. As a young girl I had always wanted a dog, but my parents never acquiesced since my mother is allergic. Now as an adult, I’m not in a position to own a dog either. I absolutely adored my day with Aston, who instead of spending the day stuck indoors, enjoyed a wonderful afternoon at the park, attended a garden party, and met some new friends. I soon realised that lots of dog owners could use a helping paw looking after their dog, and that there are thousands of people, like me, who would love to take care of a dog for free, simply because they love them.
When I began talking with potential members, what I found was incredible. Story after story of dog lovers and dog owners who felt that they'd benefit emotionally and physically by connecting with like-minded people in their area. There was the the man who had an operation and needed help walking his dog, the family whose dog would always welcome more games of fetch and countless people who felt lonely. The stories kept coming in and it was clear there was a need. When a little girl told me her story of how much she wanted a dog, I cried. It was like hearing me as a young girl desperate for the loving companionship of a fluffy creature.
What started with me manually matching people and dogs has now turned into an online platform with more than 600,000 members across the UK and Ireland and an ever-growing social media community.
2. What's the biggest lesson you've learnt from starting up BorrowMyDoggy?
For anyone considering starting a business, make sure there’s a demand and that the business idea is solving a problem. With over 60% of startups destined to fail in the first 3-4 years, make sure you do something you love. There will be many failures and when the going gets tough, the tough needs to get going.
3. What's the one piece of business advice you wish you'd been given when you started?
Knowing that setting up a business takes a lot longer that you would expect, especially when it comes to funding. This would have been useful for my peace of mind!
4. Was there ever a point when you wanted to give up?
No. Just knowing people’s first-hand stories of how much BorrowMyDoggy is creating positive impact on local communities has kept me going. From neighbours forming new friendships to dogs being ring bearers at borrowers’ weddings, it is not an option to give up. I want to create more and more of these amazing stories. It’s my mission to make as much of a positive impact we can via our lovely community.
5. What's been the biggest milestone for the business so far?
I would say the journey has been full of small ones so far. With every small milestone you realise how much further you’ve got to go. For me, the milestones need to do one thing: leave ‘Pawprints of Happiness’ on the lives of dogs and people. This is our goal as a company. Through the platform people are being more active, overcoming loneliness and making friends, whilst dogs are gaining more exercise, love and attention.
6. Who is your inspiration?
My parents. They set me up with the values of trying to make a difference. They’ve always been very active and engaged in supporting the local community and making time to help people. I hope I can bring some of my values into what I’m doing, both inside and outside of work.
7. What keeps you motivated?
The knowledge that the more we do, the more we can help and see the positive impact we want to see.
8. What business or brand do you look up to?
Being Danish, I am going to be impartial and say that I love everything that Joe the Juice is doing. From the hiring of talent, to matching the brand to the interior design and delicious juices and sandwiches, they’re getting it right. And of course Lego. They may have gone through some tough times, but they’ve stayed ahead of the curve and their product lines have always fed my imagination ever since I was a young girl.
9. If you weren't doing this, you would be....
My answer is different today than it would have been 5 years ago. I think right now I’d be helping more people become entrepreneurs, including encouraging more women take the jump. Otherwise, I would definitely be doing something in the charity sector. Anything I do now or in the future needs to make me feel like it has a positive impact.