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AllPaws platform puts tech spin on pet adoptions

Swipe right to meet your four-legged soulmate!

Swipe right to meet your four-legged soulmate! Photo Credit: AllPaws

Swiping left and right and sifting through profiles is a regular practice for people looking for love nowadays.

Through the website and app AllPaws, the same approach is being used for those looking for a four-legged soulmate.

AllPaws partners with local shelters to connect pet-seekers with animals up for adoption. Users can scroll through available pets and narrow their search through more than 20 filters. When they sense a match, they can contact shelters straight through the app.

The feel of a dating service is intentional: In 2005, AllPaws founder Darrell Lerner partnered with his brother to found the social media and software development firm Snap Interactive, which is the parent company of the dating app and website AYI (AreYouInterested).

A life-long animal lover, the idea for AllPaws came to Lerner while he was working at Snap.

"I was looking for my next project with my next startup. I kept coming back to pets, and finally one day the light bulb went off that we could build a much better pet adoption engine," he said. AllPaws is "in all respects a dating engine except the profiles are pets instead of people."

AllPaws currently partners with more than 13,000 shelters across the United States and Canada, and Lerner said roughly 10% of them are located in New York City.

Since its launch in October 2013, the website has had more than 500,000 visits a month. It currently has 330,000 registered users, and more than 200,000 available pets are listed on it, according to the company. The iPhone app has been downloaded more than 75,000 times since its release in October 2014, and an Android app is planned, Lerner said.

However since the shelters handle the actual adoptions, he couldn't provide concrete numbers on how many animals have found homes through AllPaws.

Though promoting pet adoptions is altruistic, Lerner and his team have to make a living. So far this year, they've earned a healthy profit through advertising and sponsorships with animal product brands, such as Royal Canin pet foods, and product promotions in the form discounts and other offers for users are also in the works, Lerner said.

For now, the Manhattan-based company is mostly focused on connecting more people with the next furry love of their lives. But like with any startup, gaining traction for AllPaws takes work.

"Building a business from scratch and achieving any kind of meaningful scale, especially with a small team and limited resources, is always incredibly challenging," Lerner said. Issues like fixing glitches in the platform, cultivating a good staff and brainstorming ways to increase website traffic are ongoing like at any small business, he said.

But, "it's an easy story for people to get behind," Lerner admitted, "because at the end of the day we are helping a lot more pets get adopted and find good homes."

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