(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the final article in a series of articles spotlighting participants in the recent “What’s the Big Idea 48-Hour Launch” coordinated by the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center for The Development Corporation of Knox County. The competition was won by Erica Grant with Quantum Lock, and you can read our previous article about her initiative here.)
By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
Lauren McNamara is a recent addition to the Knoxville community, having moved here in late 2018 to take a business development position with CodeTank Labs LLC.
When the latest iteration of the annual “What’s the Big Idea 48-Hour Launch” was announced, she thought, “Why not compete.” So, she did with data to back-up her idea.
“It’s no secret that we humans love dogs,” McNamara says. “We love dogs so much, we will invest in property just to accommodate their needs,” citing a recent survey by SunTrust Mortgage documenting that a third of millennials who had already purchased their first home said they were influenced by the need to have space for a dog.
She also noted these insightful facts: (1) the average American dog owner spends more than $2,000 each year on their pups; (2) pet spending in the U.S. was estimated to be $72 billion in 2018; and (3) individuals love dogs so much they will endlessly scroll through pics, clips, videos and gifs of them.
“Today’s dog-loving media consumers can’t get enough of seeing their fuzzy faces and capturing their lovable personalities,” McNamara notes. “The problem is that we have settled for a one-stop-shop from a single, generalized content stream, forcing us to sift through algorithmically prioritized, paid ads, and other digitized clutter to “like” one adorable French bulldog photo. The congestion also deters many dog owners from posting content because most know that in order to reach potential fans, they’re required to become SEO (search engineer optimization) wielding, hashtag arranging, experts.”
DigDog is her solution . . . a social platform for dog lovers of all types: appreciators, owners, enthusiasts, breeders, and shelters. McNamara describes it as “a community app that simplifies and streamlines the way we consume dog content. It creates a new medium for communication between users who celebrate and embrace pup culture.”
The current MVP (minimum viable product) allows users to create a “Pup Profile” where they can upload photos and videos of their dogs. For each Pup Profile, there is a corresponding summary card to best represent their content in the DigDog Discovery section. Summary cards feature select photos and a few bio details along with their openness to breeding.
“You do not need to have a dog to partake in DigDog,” McNamara says. “Everyone is welcome to freely swipe on summary cards in Discovery to create a personal network and social feed. To find dogs for breeding, companionship, adoption, a playdate, or to connect with fellow pup enthusiasts, DigDog will change the way we are social with our pets.”
If everything goes well, she hopes to launch a beta version later this summer.
“Our dream is for DigDog to become a centralized online hub, creating a new digital dog park for dog lovers to interact like never before,” McNamara says. “I’ve been blown away by all of the entrepreneurial support that exists here.” That’s a great compliment for the region considering she has lived in Washington, DC; Las Vegas; London, UK; New York City; and Philadelphia.
Meanwhile, as she works on DigDog, McNamara is focused during the day on CodeTank Labs where Andrew May, Co-Founder and Senior Partner, says “growth has been amazing.” As Business Development Lead, McNamara is spending time working, in particular, with utility companies in the augmented reality and virtual reality spaces where CodeTank Labs has built a niche.
“Utility companies not only have a need for it, but a desire for it,” the two told me in a recent discussion. “We’re solidifying this niche working with some big-name companies.”
Prior to joining CodeTank Labs, McNamara was at two New York City companies – Good Apple and Pathway Group LLC – for more than four years. At the former, she was responsible for the strategic planning and tactical implementation of multichannel media campaigns across all professional media channels including online, mobile, print, convention/OOH, point of care, direct mail and peer-to-peer channels.