How Entrepreneur Jamie Ruden Is Creating Community for Dog Parents
Jamie Ruden, Founder of Dog Spotted, is building a community to make dog parenting simple and fun by highlighting service providers, dog-friendly places, and expertly-written content.
When Jamie began fostering her puppy, Buck, she had no idea the challenges that came along with raising a dog. She became frustrated by the lack of information available in a user-friendly way and niche platform for the dog community. Inspired to help fellow dog parents find the right resources and tools, Jamie started working on what is now Dog Spotted. Her company is the go-to social community for dog parents to ask questions, find professionals, learn about dog-related products, and connect with other dog parents.
We asked Jamie about the founding story behind Dog Spotted, the achievements she’s most proud of since launching her company, as well as her thoughts on what it takes to build a great team.
Q: Tell us the story behind your company’s founding. How and why did you start working on Dog Spotted?
A: Growing up with a dog and raising a dog as an adult are very different. At the start of Covid-19, my partner and I fostered a wonderful puppy named Buck. Upon getting home, we realized he was covered in fleas. Neither of us had dealt with this before, and Googling high and low for answers proved to be disheartening. The types of content I was finding were either too scientific to understand in a worried state or written by dog parents who concocted their own potions to resolve the problem. This moment inspired me to create a place where dog parents would have a community by their side and the tools needed to find the right vet, service providers, and expert guidance for their dog’s needs.
From navigating what advice is reliable, to deciphering who is the best veterinarian in your neighborhood, to finding places to explore with your dog in your city—it can be overwhelming. Dog Spotted was created to find a solution to this everyday problem, starting in New York City. By partnering with experts and learning the struggles of dog parents, we create content written in a best friend tone. This provides accessibility to dog parents that may not be able to afford the time researching or paying for this kind of guidance.
On the flip side, veterinarians have shared their struggle with marketing. Limited resources and competing with nearby veterinarians has led many to feeling overwhelmed and not knowing where to start. Dog Spotted is here to help with our deep experience in online marketing and the ability to tap into a community of more than 10,000 dog parents.
Q: What problem does Dog Spotted solve?
A: Dog Spotted is solving problems for two populations: veterinarians and dog parents.
Veterinarians struggle with online marketing and need help to stay competitive with practices that have huge marketing budgets. Our doggie directory allows veterinarians to focus on what they love—helping their furry patients. By being listed, we not only have their profile put in front of their key demographic, but provide overall support to enhance their digital presence to secure new clients for their practice. We also provide additional concierge support to expand their online presence, facilitate local partners, and grow their business.
Dog parents struggle to find the right veterinarian for them as their options to research are limited by proximity, reviews on Google and Yelp, and word of mouth. Our doggie directory allows dog parents to search by services offered, providing a more informed picture alongside a comprehensive but succinct profile.
Q: What makes your company different from others?
A: Companies with directories oftentimes are covering too many industries or are more concerned with having thousands of listings. Dog Spotted is more refined. We take the time and care with each company to make sure they’re getting the perks of being listed, while ensuring our community gets quality information.
That’s why we began our site with the mission of expert advice that is accessible and builds a community. Dog Spotted is all about community. We are different because of the people who are invested in what we offer and know that our first commitment is helping dog parents and veterinarians succeed. By offering the doggie directory where you can search by services offered, dog parents are able to make more informed decisions about their caregivers, and vets have higher retention with the right fit client. Dog Spotted is designed to solely focus on dog parents and dog professionals in New York City.
Q: What’s the biggest misconception that others have around entrepreneurship?
A: A big misconception is thinking if you have a great idea, people will simply come. Most people underestimate the importance of marketing. If a tree falls and no one hears it, did it actually fall? Similarly, if you have a great product or service, and no one has heard of it, did it actually succeed? Is it actually great? You have to do the work to get the word out. Only then, will an idea become reality.
Q: We dare you to brag: What achievements are you most proud of?
A: Dog Spotted launched during Covid-19, so all our events were held online. Then, in August 2021, we held our first in-person event, “Walk 2 Miles 2 Save Lives.” This week-long event was established to support NYC rescue organizations bringing dogs and other animals from adverse situations to loving homes in the area. We had hundreds of Dog Spotted community members participate and raised over $5,000 for these great organizations. The moment of sending money directly to these amazing organizations was when it hit me—this is real!
Q: What have you learned about building a team and a support network around yourself?
A: Even in a remote world, it’s important to set the tone from the get-go. Some example questions to kickstart the process for your company are:
- What is expected of each member in terms of communication?
- What are the best tools to track progress?
- What systems are in place to best collaborate across teams so all parties are on the same page?
By outlining these frameworks, your team will be able to focus on the task at hand and won’t be wondering what to do next.
Q: What would you tell your younger self if you were to start your entrepreneurial journey all over again?
A: Every successful venture requires a team. At the beginning, I tried to do everything myself. From email marketing, to social media, to accounting, to programming—there was simply never enough time. The best founders know their strengths and know when to bring on team members to lead critical business processes. Whether they be freelancers or partners, having a team is the key to success.
Q: How would you describe the journey you’ve had in a few sentences? Would you do it all over again?
A: Building Dog Spotted over the last two years has been the biggest challenge but most rewarding experience of my life. There have been so many highs, like seeing the excitement from new veterinarians signing up, to the lows, like missing out on a great partnership. Either way, I’ve been so fulfilled by this experience and I’ve learned more in these past two years than I could have ever imagined. I would 100 percent do it all again.
Jamie is a member of Dreamers & Doers, a private collective that amplifies the entrepreneurial pursuits of extraordinary women through thought leadership opportunities, authentic connection, and access. Learn more about Dreamers & Doers and subscribe to their monthly The Digest for top entrepreneurial and career resources.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.