South Korea’s first pet taxi startup began with co-founder Park Nara’s personal experience of an emergency vet visit back in 2015. Her dog needed to be taken to a vet immediately, but no taxi would take her and the dog. She had to run in the end.
The next year Pet Me Up was launched, aiming to respond to the travel needs of dogs, cats and other companion animals and their owners.
“It is estimated that nearly 1 in 5 Korean households own pets, but many still face difficulties like I had,” Park said via telephone.
Pet Me Up has an Uber-like business model, connecting people who need a ride with those who can provide it. Hailing can take place via the app, telephone or online platforms.
Pet Me Up taxis are equipped with basic pet items like pee pads and diapers, and an insurance plan covers its four-legged passengers. (Pet Me Up)
The business has grown exponentially, from just 15 drivers and 1,000 members at the start of business to over 100 freelance drivers and 20,000 users.
“Nearly 95 percent of users came back for a second time,” Park explained.
Pet Me Up taxis are equipped with the basic necessities, such as pee pads and diapers. When car cleaning is needed, pet owners are charged a fee of 10,000 to 100,000 won ($8.40-$84), depending on costs incurred.
Fares start from 11,000 won, which is about 7,000 won higher than regular taxis at 3,800 won. A maximum of four pets are allowed, regardless of size, with an extra charge of 2,000 won per additional passenger. Pet Me Up also offers insurance coverage for the animals on board.
For drivers, there is an initial signup fee of 300,000 won. To maintain the quality of service, Pet Me Up accepts drivers only after an interview, training sessions and a vehicle check.
The venture also offers pick-up and drop-off services of unaccompanied animals, allowing pet owners to send their pets to grooming shops, hotels and day care centers.
By Lee Sun-young (firstname.lastname@example.org)