Woof is a smartphone app which seeks to give pet owners peace of mind when they leave the house. The app is designed to set into action a rescue plan for your pets if something happens to you while you are away, and for any reason, are unable to get home. But, will the Sharks believe that this new pet-rescue app is barking up the wrong tree? Find out in our Woof Shark Tank update.
What is Woof?
Woof is a smart phone app that’s designed to rescue your pet and maintain their well-being if something happens to you unexpectedly, at home or away. Woof Help Llc, the company which maintains the app, is located in New York City.
Woof works by incorporating an Away Timer with a pre-set timeframe that the client sets for how long they can be away from their home address before Woof Support kicks in. Once you leave home, your Away Timer will automatically begin to count down until you return home. If your Away Timer ever expires while you are away, Woof Support will begin to seek assistance for your pet.
Who created Woof?
Woof was founded by Arsy Khodabandelou who lives in New York City. Arsy is originally from Maryland, where he attended college at the University of Maryland, earning a BS degree in Biology. He then went on to graduate school at the University of Southampton in the UK, where he graduated with a MSc degree in Allied Health Services.
Arsy has worked in a number of healthcare related businesses, including DrFirst, a company which pioneered software solutions and services to provide users real-time access to patient data. He also worked for Inovalon, a leading technology company providing cloud-based platforms to assist healthcare management. In 2022, Arsy both took a new position with Verse Medical, a company which creates software that enables hospital-quality care at home, and he also founded Woof. Currently, he is still working at both companies.
How did Woof get started?
Woof founder Arsy Khodabandelou told the Accidental Entrepreneur podcast the story of how he came up with the idea for Woof. He explained that not long after he had moved from Maryland to New York City, he and his finance were taking a drive out of the city to go hiking, and they came very close to being involved in an auto accident.
Since Arsy had just moved to New York, all of his family and friends were back in Maryland, and he didn’t know many people in New York yet, so just after the near-accident occurred, he told the podcast, “It was weird, immediately, the whole idea for Woof just flew into my head.” He said that he had often felt worried about what would happen to his three dogs if he were ever to meet misfortune, so the accident suddenly gave him the whole concept of Woof, an app that could move a pet into a safe place if something happened to its owner.
On the night Arsy and his fiance returned from their hiking trip and the near-accident experience, he crafted a basic design for the app, and he started looking for an app developer. He then remembered that a friend had hired a freelance developer for a project, so he called his friend, and got in contact with the developer, and he signed a contract for development of the new app, on the same night on which he had returned from the trip.
What happened to Woof before Shark Tank?
Woof founder Arsy Khodabandelou experienced his near-accident, which led to the idea behind the app, in mid-February 2022, and within less than 4 months, he launched the app. In quite a surprising Shark Tank twist, prior to launch, and only 3 months after coming up with the concept, Arsy applied to Shark Tank online, and within three weeks, a producer contacted him to set up a phone interview.
Woof made it through the Shark Tank screening process in what appears to be record time, as within about 6-8 weeks of application, the Shark Tank producers informed Arsy that they would fly him to California. Thus, the company had launched in May 2022, and in September, just three months later, Arsy’s episode was filmed. Arsy said that he was truly hoping to hit 100 paid subscribers by the time he entered the Tank, and he didn’t reach that number until the day of the taping.
One reason that Arsy was worried that he needed to get at least 100 subscribers onboard before his pitch was filmed was the fact that he had spent so much money developing the app, that by the time he launched it, he didn’t have additional funds for marketing. The only marketing that he had been able to do was to print business cards with a QR code on them that would lead potential customers to his website. For several months, he spent many hours in the dog parks of New York City handing out these cards, and this was the only real marketing he had produced prior to jumping into the Tank with the Sharks.
When Arsy presented the company to the Sharks, Woof had gone from idea to launch in under 6 months, so the company was just getting started, and he told the Sharks that at the time of his pitch, they had just 317 downloads and 102 subscriptions.
What do customers think of Woof?
On the Apple App store, we found 44 ratings for the Woof app, and users rated it at 4.4 out of 5 stars. It appears that about 80% of users rated Woof at 5 stars, while 10% gave it only a single star.
What are customers saying about Woof?
Most of the positive reviews for Woof cite the ease of use, and the sense of peace felt by pet owners knowing that they have an emergency plan for their pets.
One happy dog owner wrote, “This app gives me peace of mind when I leave my puppy at home because you never know what may happen to you. I love my dog too much to even think about them being left alone for hours and hours.”
Another satisfied user stated, “Highly recommended app. Very user friendly. An invaluable service at a low cost. I can leave my home with the peace of mind that my dog is taken care of in case of the unexpected.”
One critical reviewer stated that the app doesn’t recognize the real world of work from home. She said:
“I thought this looked great after Shark Tank and thought the Sharks were crazy to pass up. I bought it and then realized it won’t work for me because I work from home, so leaving my home for a short walk won’t reset time and will give a false trigger. Some days, I don’t leave home, which would set off the trigger. Too much to manage.”
Another reviewer loved the idea behind Woof, but she thought that the app still needed some work: “I love the idea of this app, but it doesn’t work well. I’ve gotten multiple messages about my timer running out when it should have reset multiple times that same day. The emergency contacts won’t save. The ones I had got erased along with my pet’s info. I did cancel my membership but should still have six months left that I already paid for. I’d be a customer again for the peace of mind this offers, but the service needs to work.”
When did Woof appear on Shark Tank?
Woof appeared on Shark Tank in Season 14, Episode 16, which aired on March 10th, 2023. The company pitched to regular Sharks Mark Cuban, Lori Greiner, Kevin O’Leary, Daymond John, and Robert Herjavec.
While Woof looks to help pet owners keep their furry friends safe, another pitch on Season 14 of Shark Tank looked to provide humans with a dog-style bed. Check out our Plufl Shark Tank update to learn more.
What happened to Woof on Shark Tank?
Woof founder Arsy Khodabandelou entered the Tank and asked the Sharks for an investment of $100k in return for a 10% equity stake in his company.
Arsy introduced himself to the Sharks, telling them that he lives in New York City with his three dogs Marty, Hank, and Otis. He then told the Sharks that over 70% of American households have a pet. Next, he asked the Sharks, “But what if something unexpected happened to a pet’s owner, like a car accident, or a heart attack, or a Shark attack”?
He then said as a dog dad living in New York, he had often thought about what would happen to his dogs if something happened to him. This thought led him to create Woof, a smartphone app that’s designed to rescue your pet if something happens to you.
He explained to the Sharks that the app has a geolocation timer that is linked to your home address, and it automatically resets when you leave home and stops when you return. The user presets the timer, then, if the timer expires before you get home, this means that your pet might be at risk, so the Woof support software kicks in.
The software will allow Woof to first reach out to the pet owner, and if they are not available, it would contact the user’s emergency contact list, and if they still can’t confirm the pet’s safety, a wellness check would be initiated with public services, such as the police department, to come and check on your pet.
Kevin O’Leary jumped in with the first question when he asked if they had sold any apps to anyone, and Arsy replied that the app had been out for about three months, and that it had initiated 4 instances of support so far.
Next, Robert wanted to know if someone from Woof actually went out to check on pets in the home, and Arsy informed him that if a client’s emergency contacts can not be reached in two hours, the final step is for Woof to initiate a wellness check with a local public authority. Kevin O’Leary then wondered if the local authorities were going to break into your house to get to the dog, and Arsy replied, “They have the means to do that.”
Mark Cuban commented that the police may do a wellness check, but they don’t offer babysitting service for the dog, and Arsy told him that they would contact animal control to take the dog until a family member, friend, or hopefully, the owner, could be located.
Lori Greiner next asked Arsy as a dog owner, what gave him the idea for this app, and he told her the story of being in a near accident in his car, and when it occurred, “rather than my life flashing in front of my eyes, my dog’s life flashed before my eyes.” That’s when I thought, ‘I can fix this problem with technology.’
Robert then asked about the price of the app, and he learned that the subscription cost $2.99 per month, or $29.99 for a full year. He followed up by inquiring how many subscribers had paid for Woof, and Arsy told him that they had 317 downloads and 102 subscriptions.
Even with these fairly low numbers, Mr. Wonderful commented, “That’s not horrible. That’s impressive.”
Daymond followed O’Leary by asking Arsy if he owned the name Woof, and when Daymond learned that Arsy did not own the name, he told him, “You didn’t do enough homework to lock up the name, and you’re going to have a lot of challenges with that because somebody’s going to send you a cease and desist order, and you’re not even going to be able to take advantage of the opportunity now.”
After this dose of reality from Daymond, some of the Sharks looked as if they were ready to swim back out to deeper waters.
Did Woof get a deal on Shark Tank?
Woof did not manage to get a deal in the Tank.
Robert showed his hand first, as he told Arsy, “I don’t see it. I’ll tell you why. The problem is that you’re catering to the very, very small group of people who do not have friends or family within a geographic location.” After this comment, Robert quickly bowed out.
Lori Greiner next said that the app is admirable and nice, and she gets that it is to give pet owners some added peace of mind, but she couldn’t see it as an investment for her. Mr. Wonderful then spoke up to say that he liked crazy stuff, and at first, he thought Arsy was crazy, but he did see merit in the app; however, he told him that in order to make it scale, he would need to open a call center, and finally O’Leary said, “I’ve warmed up a little bit, but not enough to give you $100k.”
Mark Cuban also stated that he thought that it was a great idea, but to make any money, he would need a ton of subscribers, and he couldn’t see it getting to a million or 5 million subscribers, which would be needed in order to provide a return for an investor.
Woof Shark Tank update, what happened next?
In a rare occurrence for Shark Tank companies, we were unable to discover any evidence of a major Shark Tank effect, a drastic increase in sales for a company once its episode has aired on the show.
Five to six months after the Shark Tank episode aired, Woof founder Arsy Khodabandelou appeared on the Accidental Entrepreneur podcast, and he stated that the company then had around 450 paid subscribers. This indicates that in the nearly one year which elapsed between taping the Shark Tank episode and the podcast interview, Woof had only gained an additional 350 paid subscribers. This certainly seems to be a very small number of new users to have signed on in nearly 12 months.
Another sign that the company has not gained any real traction is that it also appears that founder Arsy is still working at his full-time job while running Woof as a part-time business. With both this slow growth, and the founder still occupied full time, we have some doubt as to whether this online pet rescue service will ever mature into a large, profitable enterprise.