The idea of a social media site for dogs may initially seem whimsical, but when you think about it, are there any creatures more sociable than canines?
This endearing trait undoubtedly inspired Michael Chiang in 2010 when he created MatchPuppy, a networking site designed to help dog owners connect and arrange playdates for their pets. Chiang (’11) was motivated by his experiences with Louis, his young Maltese.
“I was looking for a dog friend that he would get along with,” says Chiang. “He’s little, and the nearby dog parks all had big dogs.” Chiang was also personally interested in meeting fellow doggie parents. “A lot of dog owners just sit at the park and their dogs have all the fun. We wanted to bring these people together,“ he says.
Since its February 2012 beta launch, MatchPuppy has won over many New York City dog owners and has gotten major media attention. Though the site currently caters to New York City, mainly through park meet-ups, Chiang plans to expand nationally. So far, “Louis and I have gone on a few hundred playdates already,” he says. “I’ve been to parks in Queens, Manhattan, Staten Island. I’ve met a lot of dog people.”
Not surprisingly, “a lot of unique relationships have been sparked” by MatchPuppy, the alum notes. “On Long Island, there’s a woman with 16 dogs who found other doggie moms who lived nearby. They get together once a week now at her place.”
Chiang initially started out studying finance, but his heart wasn’t in it. “I found out that Baruch had a great entrepreneurship program, great professors,” he says of his decision to switch majors. The Lawrence N. Field Center for Entrepreneurship was instrumental in making MatchPuppy viable. Says Chiang, “They host great events, where I met fellow entrepreneurs I still keep in contact with today. . . . The center helps you with your business plan, with fundraising, connecting you with angel investors. They’ve been really helpful.”
Though humble (“I’m not a seasoned entrepreneur yet; I’m sure I have more lessons to learn”), Chiang does have advice for aspiring entrepreneurs: “One of the major takeaways for me: just keep pushing and never give up. That’s a cliché, but it’s really true. It’s only you who can push that ball up the hill.”
Of course it helps if you have a trusty canine friend to retrieve it.