We are all familiar with human influencers who bring awareness to brands, services, and products. But what about pet influencers? Pawjourr is the first-ever pet and human-orientated platform where you or your pet could be the next big pet influencer. Here at Pawjourr, their team aims to connect brands and agencies with pet owners to co-create content!
In this month’s Startup Conversation, we proudly present Pawjourr, co-founded by Jane Peh, Tay SiJun, and Navaneeth Sreekandan. Read on to understand how the couple works together as co-founders with Navaneeth in building the company.
Have the both of you always wanted to set up a business together? What inspired the 3 of you to start Pawjourr together and how is it like to work together as a couple?
Jane: Excited to be here! We have never explicitly thought about starting a business though I’ve always dabbled in side hustles since young. I’ve sold clothes online, helped friends buy products from Taobao – I remembered earning $80 from a winter coat and I was so excited!
The idea of Pawjourr stems from nights of scrolling on Instagram and planning a trip to the UK to meet my favorite pair of Malamutes. I was in advertising and saw the synergy between pets and social media; spoke to Sijun and thought, “what’s the worst?”. Naveen joined us a year after we started the business but he loved the idea and didn’t need much persuasion to join us.
When your life partner is also your co-founder, there are only 2 ways it can swing – super good or super bad. Lucky for us, Sijun and I complement each other with our skill sets and weakness (he is all about the numbers, and I love tinkering with the product). We respect each other’s domain of expertise within the company and that helped a lot in managing conflicts.
Work-life balance is a myth for start-up founders; I am always thinking about the company (how can we grow? What should we do next? How do I fix this?) right to the minute I sleep. I realize that pain is inevitable and just enjoy the process; it’s just a part of me now.
From left we have Jane Peh, CEO & Co-Founder, Tay SiJun, CFO & Co-Founder and Navaneeth Sreekandan, CTO & Co-Founder at Pawjourr
It must be really tough to attract your early adopters. Brands would not come on board if there are not enough influencers and influencers would not use the platform when there are not enough “jobs” available on-demand.
How did you manage to convince the brands and influencers to use your platform in the early stages of Pawjourr?
Jane: Pawjourr was such a new concept that we decided to recruit content creators to validate the idea first before approaching brands. We were afraid that pet owners are not receptive to the idea of monetizing their pets; it can be sensitive. I personally messaged the first 300 creators to sign up and the result gave us the confidence that people love this idea. We have pet owners promoting our business organically and some even tag our handler on their bio!
At the end of the day, brands are attracted to where the users are at – as people start talking about us, brands approached us to learn more about our services and how we can help them. To be honest, it wasn’t super difficult for us to sell the idea to brands; 80% of the time, the brands were the ones who approached us e.g. Nestle Purina Singapore & US.
How did the 3 of you grow Pawjourr from the start to its current size? Are there any challenges that the three of you faced in the process? How did you overcome it?
Sijun: We focused really hard on what the brands wanted, and constantly improved and re-iterated from there. We figured in order to grow to a certain scale, we need to be able to penetrate out of SG, and thus decided to focus on taking on jobs from other countries such as the US, UK, CA, and more. One thing led to another and we’re now at where we are today.
As a startup, there are many challenges that we’ve faced. From co-founder disagreements to product reiterations to demanding clients. We’re lucky that as a team of 3 co-founders, we were able to rely on each other’s strengths to cover our weaknesses and thus overcome the challenges in a most objective way.
There are numerous different types of marketing firms in Singapore. How is Pawjourr positioning itself against similar vertical competitors and traditional marketing firms?
Jane: Indeed, there are many similar vertical competitors and strong traditional marketing firms in Singapore.
For us, we focus on the pets industry instead of chasing after the entire spectrum like other companies. Some people might think that it’s a niche market, but the pet industry is expected to reach $358.62 billion by 2027. Unlike other platforms focusing on multiple verticals, homing in on a “niche” is exactly how we plan to stand out.
This decision has won us global clients and 6-digit contracts from award-winning companies, platforms that have raised millions of dollars and put us on the global map with exclusive features from BBC World, Yahoo, CNA, etc. It also gives new brands the confidence that we are the experts and in-market specialists here – in today’s world, being a generalist is just not enough.
Our new self-serve platform will automate and allow brands to run their own campaigns/projects from anywhere in the world. We have seen huge success since our launch and have onboarded more than 15 brands from the US and UK. On average, brands who leverage our tool has
How can you find ways to ensure the trustworthiness of the brands and influencers that are working together on your website?
Sijun: We have an internal grading system for our users, this means that creators who constantly go MIA or not performing up to standard will appear lower in ranking when applying for jobs. For brands, we make sure that they won’t go missing when the creators have fulfilled the deliverables by requesting an escrow payment in order to lock in the funds.
Pawjourr pitched at Angelcentral earlier this year. How was the experience like to raise funds and pitch through Angelcentral?
Jane: It was good. Pretty straightforward and fuss-free. Though covid limited the number of attendees in the audience, the live streaming helped connect us to a larger audience of which some came onboard our round.
Where do you see Pawjourr for the next few years?
Jane: The founders are moving to San Francisco in Q1 next year as part of our market expansion plan. Pawjourr will be the online marketplace for both brands and pet owners to come together and co-create amazing content.
Because of the unique positioning of Pawjourr, we can easily grow into other areas within the pet space i.e. commerce, community, etc.
Introducing Milky(L) and Oolong(R), the furkids of Jane and Sijun
A final question before we end, what kind of pets do the both of you favor respectively? (elaborate on the breed, etc) Do you think that they resonate with your respective character?
Jane: Haha, I am definitely a Chow Chow!
In my natural habitat, I love to stay indoors, have a low activity level (i sleep 15 hours on Saturdays; it’s my way of recharging) but high maintenance when it comes to grooming (in my case, I indulge in beauty and skincare sessions at times)
Sijun: I’m a Greyhound. Need very little exercise, like to explore the outside world constantly & sensitive to extreme weather (I hate the heat).
Find A Job For Your Pet!
Pawjourr is an online marketplace that connects brands with content creators, specifically pets. From paid campaigns to modeling gigs, simply upload a job listing & start working with pets around the world.Featured on BBC World, CNA, SCMP, Yahoo! News, Business Times, Straits Times etc.
AngelCentral is the most active and fastest-growing community of angel investors in Southeast Asia. We organize regular pitch sessions, angel education workshops, and provide syndication services. Since Inception, AngelCentral has trained >300 angels and our members have invested >S$18m into the startups.
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