For five years, Christina Fuentes ran a startup in the Bay Area providing walking, pet sitting and training for dogs. At the same time, her husband Jason worked for Silicon Valley-based RadiumOne, a data-driven marketing startup now valued at more than $200 million.
Why this Austin startup wants to be the TOMS shoes for shelter dogs
But when 2016 rolled around, both Jason and Christina — dog lovers at heart who also share a passion for entrepreneurship — decided it was time to head to Austin.
Within five months of moving to the city, the pair launched their own business, a platform called Get Wagging that combines their early-stage startup know-how with a love for pooches.
The company offers a monthly subscription service of seasonal dog collars and leashes starting at $15/month. When the month ends and a new collar is sent out, customers are encouraged to mail any lightly-used collars back to the company, using pre-paid shipping and packaging supplied by Get Wagging. All returned collars are then donated to a local rescue dog.
“The whole crux of the business currently is to help redirect where the shelters are having to spend their funds, because they have to spend a lot of money on dog food, veterinary care, dog treats, marketing, and keeping the lights on,” said Jason. “Those bills add up really fast, so we wanted to be able to come in and ask how can we help in a small way while helping to give a shelter animal something that they need.”
Manufactured just four miles outside of downtown, Get Wagging’s leashes and collars have shipped all over the U.S., with all recycled items supporting local Austin shelters.
Since launch, Christina said they’ve received a number of hand-written notes packed with the returned collars from subscribers in support of the idea.
“With brands like TOMs, people are able to give back, but they aren’t included in the physical process,” said Christina. “But with us, they are. I think they like being a part of the process.”
The Fuentes family, including Parker, a chihuahua rescue, and Lola, a 70-pound pit-mastiff-shepherd rescue, plans to continue to donate in Austin but said the end goal is the ability to donate nationwide.
“Little by little, we’re carving out an impact here with the shelters in Austin, but overall our goal is to help out these shelters across the country,” said Jason.
Images provided by Get Wagging.