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Meet Randall Ray of PuppyPals

Today we’d like to introduce you to Randall Ray.

Randall, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
When I moved to Atlanta in 2014, not knowing anyone, I quickly adopted my dog, Shadow, at 6 weeks old. We really explored the city together. When people used to ask how I liked Atlanta so far, I would often joke and say, “the dog parks are really nice”. Shadow is literally everything to me. I have no problem admitting that I revolve my life around him, he is my world! However, sometimes it would be a problem, wanting to bring him with me and not knowing where he is or isn’t allowed to come. I would assume all restaurants with patios would allow dogs and quickly found out that wasn’t the case.

In 2015, I started working for a retail store in a very popular dog walking community. We allowed dogs in our store but there was no indication of that. I would often see a potential customer walking by with their dog and peaking in our windows. Whenever I could I would run out and tell them that they could come inside with their dog. They were always so happy to bring their dog in and we would normally get a sale and a new customer. That is when I realize, I wasn’t the only one with the problem of knowing where your dog can and can’t tag along, and I saw a mutual benefit for dog friendly businesses to be able to reach the pet owning community.

So PuppyPals was born!

I founded PuppyPals in March 2016 and the app launched in October 2016. I describe it as the “yelp” for dog-friendly businesses. We just celebrated our 1-year anniversary. It has been a slow but sure (and reassuring) process. It’s been more time consuming than I thought to reach the dog community and find dog-friendly businesses but every day there is a new dog mom or dad that contacts us thanking us for the app, or a dog-friendly business that has heard of us and wants to be added. It’s a great feeling!

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The biggest struggle has been how time-consuming it is to sign up all of the businesses. One of the things I pride the app on is that the PuppyPal Certified (PPC) venues (those that have been personally checked out by us), allow all breeds and sizes of dogs, and in the case of restaurants that they are allowed ON the patio, and not tied up to the other side of the fence. I want PuppyPals to be a community standard that all dog owners and dog-friendly businesses can rely on, however, this means it’s a lot of work to get to every business.

PuppyPals – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
PuppyPals is a mobile app that shows dog-friendly venues in the Greater Atlanta Area – the “yelp” for dog-friendly places.

We pride ourselves in making sure our venues are dog-FRIENDLY and not just dog tolerable, and that they allow all breeds and sizes of dogs.

We also offer “mark your territory” stickers for businesses to put on their door or window that say “PuppyPals Welcome Here” or “PuppyPals on the Patio” to let people walking by knowing whether their pup is allowed inside or should stay outside.

We also find our app is extremely user-friendly and offers many convenient features, search, and filter options so anyone can find what they’re looking for.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
I am personally fulfilled everyday by hearing from the dog community. Whether it is a comment on Instagram, a request for an Android version (we’re only on the app store and are working very hard to raise the funds for an Android version), or a business that’s heard about us and wants to join, it’s those small victories that mean the most! I do a lot of networking and joke that I can instantly tell whether or not you have a dog by the look you get on your face when I tell you about the app. It’s either a polite nod and smile with a pleasantry, or an ear to ear smile and look of pure joy followed by “you have no idea how much I need that”, or something along those lines. To me, that’s what matters most! I needed this app and knew (or hoped) other people would too.

Pricing:

  • $1.99 version available in the app store (ad free)
  • Free version available in the app store (with ads)

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: VoyageATL is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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