When I first discovered Pawzy, a site dedicated to current and future pet owners, I was wishing it was around when my family was researching for a dog breed a few years ago. What caught my eye first was a quiz on the site that matches your lifestyle to a few recommended breeds. It sounded like fun, but then a closer look revealed some very useful information. I’m relieved to see that our family corgi was in the top three that were ideally matched. The site isn’t just for that, it’s also a helpful resource tapping into professional advice from vets and behaviorists for modern-day pet health and wellness. Wondering what are the Top 10 Easiest Dogs to Train? or how about cannabis and dogs? Looking for a breed-specific rescue? If you’ve got questions and curious, then you’ll want to bookmark this site.
Who’s behind this brilliant site? Pawzy founder and CEO, Kerri-Lynn McAllister, combined her love for animals and her incredible technology background to create the site dedicated to connecting pet owners to the best advice and services out there. Kerri-Lynn has over a decade of experience building successful online marketplaces — her mission? to help consumers make better purchasing decisions with qualified information.
We had a chance to find out more about Kerri-Lynn and Pawzy…Pawzy is a helpful site for current and future dog owners. What has been the most popular part of the site with visitors so far?
KLM: Our dog breed selector is the most popular tool on the site, and we see visitors taking the quiz over and over again. It’s like a Buzzfeed quiz that matches you to your ideal dog breed based on things like your personality, lifestyle and living situation. We’ve built a proprietary algorithm based on 20 characteristics of the top 100 dog breeds. The quiz is data-driven but it’s fun.
Tell us about you! You’re following your own dreams but you also have some great experience to support your dreams. Tell us about your previous jobs in the technology field?
KLM: I’ve spent the last decade in tech – specifically, building and growing online marketplaces like Pawzy. I was part of the founding team of Ratehub, Canada’s leading financial product comparison website, and most recently was the Chief Marketing Officer at cannabis technology company Lift & Co. I gained valuable experiences at various stages of a technology company, from launch to scale-up to IPO. Now I can apply my skills and experiences to my true passion, pet health. I don’t think I could have launched Pawzy before now—I value each lesson I’ve learned along the way, including how to be a skilled and effective leader, something I think takes time and dedication.
At Ratehub.ca, I learned how to validate an idea through research and really understand an addressable market need and how to fill that gap. Now I’m poised to develop my passion into a real business. Pet tech is one of the most exciting investment opportunities in tech—it’s an $8 billion market in Canada along and growing rapidly. Spending in the sector has increased nearly 30% over the last five years in North America, and it even grew during the past two recessions. It’s an exciting time to build a business around our pets!
I believe that Pawzy will be “the one” that defines my career and makes a positive impact in the world, and I am confident that we’re building a viable and sustainable business.
There are more young women entering the tech industry, it seems like one of the sectors that not only encourage females but work to achieve more equality in the workforce. What’s your experience been like?
KLM: Like every other industry, leaders are finally learning that gender equality is not only the right thing to do, but statistically creates better performing businesses.
My experience in tech has taught me a lot about what is required to drive change, and specifically that we need to take a close look at business practices from investor funding through to hiring—for example, I’d encourage leaders who want to focus on driving equality to educate themselves on unconscious bias in hiring practices particularly when it comes to technology positions. So often, the devil is in the details.
I benefited greatly from having been a part of a female-founded company in a very male-dominated industry (finance) in my formative career years. This gave me the confidence to know that I could play in the same sandbox as my male counterparts. We were also able to avoid some of the scenarios where unbalance is most evident in technology, giving us room to focus on growing our business. For example, we bootstrapped early on and were self-funded and self-sustaining for so long—Ratehub only taking a major round of funding as it neared its seventh year. That’s unusual in technology, but taught me how to build a sustainable business. Working in cannabis was a wakeup call—this was a brand new industry that needed a flood of funding to launch, and it was so male-dominated. It illuminated for me that equality is not the status quo and a lot of work was still to be done to create space for female business leaders to thrive.
It’s one of the reasons I was inspired to commit 5% of my personal equity holding in Pawzy to women in tech initiatives through the Upside Foundation.
What advice have you received that made a difference in your career?
KLM: The two pieces of advice I try to live by and impart to others are: done is better than perfect, and grit and perseverance wins the race. In regards to the former, I am a self-proclaimed perfectionist and I know how hard it is to let go and move on! It doesn’t come naturally. With the latter, I’ve come to really value grit in myself and in the people I surround myself with. Give yourself the room to reflect on and celebrate success, and the room to acknowledge and move on from hiccups. I have a 24-hr rule when it comes to disappointments — I have one day to mourn and sleep on it, and then I move on. You have to.
What would you want young women to know about working in the technology field?
KLM: Technology is intimidating, but I want young women to know that everyone has imposter syndrome – from the young woman entering the workforce to the experienced CEO. I know a lot of women who struggle to break out of social norms we’ve been taught our whole lives, and part of that is wrapped up in the types of careers and roles we are expected to take on. When I got to a certain stage in my career, I decided to invest in a business coach, and she taught me to recognize that everyone is human and has insecurities. A business coach is not realistic for everyone, especially if you’re just starting out, so this is where building a network is so important. Bring into your career those trusted connections and mentors with whom you can be a bit vulnerable, bounce ideas around, and practice, practice, practice.Oh, by the way, congratulations on winning the recent Queen’s UPstart Venture Challenge. Tell us what this winning means to you and how will the $30K help your business?
KLM: Thank you! We are preparing to raise money from angel investors in the new year, and winning the UpStart Challenge gives us a big head start with non-dilutive funding. We plan to use the combined funding to engineer our vet clinic finder, launch in select cities across North America and kickstart marketing and sales. Every dollar allows us to continue our mission to connect pet parents to quality care at an appropriate cost.
So, what’s your work advice?
KLM: Karma catches up with you! Work hard and be kind.