Trust My Pet Sitter was founded by Angela Fagan, who combined her passion for pets and travel to launch a digital brand that connects pet owners with pet sitters. We had the opportunity to catch up with her in our ‘Meet the Entrepreneur’ series and she shares her transitioning journey from work life to entrepreneurship.
What led you to become a entrepreneur?
I’d always been entrepreneurial from a young age so it was a natural transition after leaving the Royal Navy after 10 years service to think about starting my own business. I was one of those people who constantly think up ideas of how to solve problems much to the chagrin of my parents who just wanted me to have a ‘normal job’. After leaving the RN I put aside my entrepreneurial plans and worked in recruitment. The pending birth of my first child in 2001 was as a chance to re-assess my path in life and I decided to take the leap into being my own boss. A new baby and self employed – what could go wrong! It wasn’t all smooth sailing but my plan was to create a career for myself where I could mix both parenthood and self employment into the same pot. Sometimes it worked and often it didn’t, but the optimist in me just kept going. Looking back that’s the most important factor in being your own boss, self belief and seeking out the opportunities when they present themselves.
How did the idea of Trust My Pet Sitter come about?
Trust My Pet Sitter was a business idea that I had thought about for several years, but could never put the pieces into place until 2017. I have always been a pet owner, dogs, cats, goldfish and every time the family wanted a holiday we went through the familiar rigmarole of ‘who is going to watch the pets?’. Before we could even think about going on a trip away we had to find someone to watch the pets. Kennels were a no-no after bad experiences, dogs and cats were our babies and we wanted them to be happy when we were away. Mum and Dad were always reluctant, siblings were busy with their own lives, it seemed the easiest option at times was to just stay home.
I read about a business where people home swapped (Love Home Swap), borrowed other peoples dogs (Borrow My Doggy), then of course there was Air Bnb. Who would ever have thought that people would stay in each others homes or walk someone else’s dog? That’s the advent of the new ‘Sharing Economy’ we can be trusted to care for and watch other peoples most prized possessions.
I used Air Bnb, loved it, stayed all over the world in other peoples homes and it wasn’t weird, it was great having a home from home in another city. Every time I was away, I missed my pets, so wouldn’t it be great to have another dog to love when I was on holiday? That was my kickstart – Trust My Pet Sitter could be a real thing.
What would I need to trust someone else to watch my pets in their own home? That was the question I had to answer. I’d need to make sure they loved pets so I’d need to interview, or ID verify them. Next, I’d want to make sure my home was insured whilst they were there. Then I’d want to make sure they had had access to a Vet while I was away, just in case.
I created Trust My Pet Sitter to provide ID verified sitters and owners with our partners at YOTI, who give us and our community peace of mind that people are who they say they are. Our partners at Superhog provide all sitters with £1m of insurance backed up by our 24/7 Vet Advice Line from Pet Squad.
Since lockdown severely impacted the travel business I added pet service listings, doggy daycare and home boarders into our menu to widen our community of pet lovers.
What does being a female entrepreneur mean to you?
Being a female entrepreneur has always been a balance of family vs work and business. I’m lucky that my two daughters are now in their mid teens and can pretty much look after themselves most of the time, are both eager to be female entrepreneurs which certainly helps!
What challenges or obstacles have you faced as a result of being a freelancer?
When I first started looking for pre-seed funding for Trust My Pet Sitter in late 2019 I noticed that almost every VC or Angel was male. I have often worked in male environments (Royal Navy) and never found it a problem, but raising funding for this business was a little different. It’s the first time that I have been aware of being uncomfortable that I was seeking money. It was almost as if I was trying to brush over the fact that the real aim of meeting VCs and Angels was that I really needed their financial support to get this idea off the ground – and for some reason that didn’t sit well with me.
What has been your success story so far?
I have met (virtually in many cases) some truly inspirational women who really do want to support, share their contacts and see other women succeed.
I recently joined a Charity Board as a Trustee and am truly inspired by the incredibly successful female business champions who serve alongside me.
What tips or advice would you give to any female considering becoming an entrepreneur?
1. Do your homework, research your market, what are your competitors doing you could improve upon
2. Who else do you know that will champion your business? Promote you?
3. There will be lots of people who tell you that you can’t. Are you going to prove them wrong? How?
To learn more about Trust My Pet Sitter head over to https://www.trustmypetsitter.com/ or you can also visit https://www.linkedin.com/company/trust-my-pet-sitter/ and https://www.linkedin.com/in/angela-fagan/