Every year, about 10 million pets go missing in the US, and millions end up in shelters, where they are not always reunited with their owners due to a lack of their identity or microchip. A new mobile app, Shadow, aims to tackle this problem by leveraging a combination of a volunteer network and AI technology specifically to help dog owners.
The startup is working in partnership with animal shelters and rescue organizations around the US to draw in pictures of dogs they are currently housing, then complement it with photos drawn from social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.
Subsequently AI technology is used to match the picture of missing dogs in possible matches from nearby shelters or web.
If no match is found, the shadow will then programmatically set a search radius where and when the dog went missing, and suggest other tasks that the dog owner may take as the next steps.
This includes looking at all photos directly from shelters, in the case that the technology matching process missed a potential match, as well as working with other shadow users to help crowdfunding activities such as “Lost Dog” flyers around the neighborhood Helps to do, for example, among other things.
The app also relies on a network of volunteers who help review shelter photos and disseminate missing posters on social media sites that they use to increase the likelihood of a dog being found. Dog owners can also advertise a reward in the app to encourage people to help in the search.
Today, Shadow has expanded its volunteer user base to over 30,000. And it has partnered with ASPCA, Animal Care Centers of New York and LA, Dallas Shelter System and others.
While Shadow is free to use, it makes money through a virtual tipping mechanism when it makes a successful match and gets the dog. It also provides users with the facility to purchase Instagram Ads in-app for $ 10. Here, Shadow provides visual assets and manages the ad-purchase process and placement process on behalf of the owners.
The startup, founded by former Zocdoc founder Cyrus Masoomi, has been in public stealth mode for a few years as it moved from its hometown of New York. It is now offering dog-finding services in 76 counties in 20 US states.
We should note that Masoumi’s exit from Zukdok was complicated. He filed a lawsuit against his co-founders and CFO claiming fraud for conspiring to evict the company during a 2015 November meeting. The trial broadened the internal strife within Zokdok at the time. A New York Supreme Court judge recently determined the suit, which is ongoing, needs to be filed in Delaware instead of New York. Therefore a decision remains to be determined.
In addition, Zoscode was accused by Business Insider of developing a tense, “brew culture” in which young, male employees would make inappropriate remarks about women working there. This was ahead of the big rise of the Me Too movement, which has since influenced how businesses address these issues in the workplace.
Masoumi described the controversies exactly as described by the article. The company had 300 salespersons at the time, and while they agreed some might have acted improperly, they also believed the company had the right response to those actions.
ClearTips said “the allegations were thoroughly investigated and found to be without merit,” adding that Jockdock was repeatedly recognized as “the best place to work” when he was CEO. was. (There were never any allegations against Masoumi, but the CEO eventually got the money.)
Chhaya today boasts of a different makeup. It has a team of twelve people, and two-thirds of its product and engineering team are women. Some Zokdok investors have also returned to repatriate Innocent.
The startup is funded by Founders Fund, Hambition (funds of Massoumi and Indiegogo founder Slav Rubin), Lux Capital, FirstMinit Capital and a former Zokdoc by other angels.
Despite the complex Zocdoc history, the work that Shadow is doing is solving a problem that many people care about. Millions of pets lose their pets to euthanasia because they end up in shelters that cannot keep animals indefinitely due to lack of space. Meanwhile, the current system of destroying pet messages distributed on social media could mean that many of those posts have not been seen – especially in large metros where there are many “lost pet” groups.
As Shadow began its work in 2018, it was local to the New York area. In its first year, it reunited 600 dogs. The following year, it reunited 2,000 dogs. For the third year, it reunited 5,000 dogs. Today, it has 10,000 dogs reconnecting with owners.
More than half of them were since the epidemic began, which saw many new pet owners and spent time outdoors with those pets, when dogs can sometimes get loose.
Masoumi says he was inspired to find Shadow because a friend lost his dog, named Shadow. It took more than a month to find the dog and the two followed a false lead and connected with those who tried to help him.
“I’m thinking to myself, this is something that happens 100 million times a year globally … And for those who love pets, it’s a lost member of the family,” Innocent telling. “It seemed to me a similar problem that I’m already solving in healthcare, where there is fragmentation – people want to see the doctor and the doctor wants to see the patient, but there’s no central way to make it work , “He says.
Roughly, he wants to use technology to solve problems that people really care about.
“I think there needs to be more technology that brings humanity back to what everyone does. I think it’s very important what we’re doing,” he says.
The Shadow app is a free download on iOS and Android.