New digital services, artificial intelligence and wearable devices are changing the way we take care of our pets. Morrr, a long-term and close customer of Make Helsinki, is a new marketplace that helps pet owners to get accurate and quick information about pet healthcare and pet-related activities when they need it. We interviewed Maria Estlander – Head of Marketing and Communications, and Juan Gutiérrez – Head of Product at Morrr. We asked them to tell us what Morrr’s service offer pet owners and how they see the future of pet-related digital services.
What is Morrr?
Morrr is a marketplace that connects pet owners and local businesses together. We are building a service like Airbnb that helps people find accommodation or Uber that helps people find transportation. Morrr helps people to find pet-related services and places near them. Also, when people see Morrr’s sticker on the door of the shop, they know that they can find reviews and ratings of the place.
Morrr was founded one year ago in August 2014, because we saw a gap in the digital services provided to pet owners. We wanted to help pet owners take better care of their pets, and also help all the small business in the market to reach the pet owners.
How does Morrr’s service help owners take care of their pets?
We want to make taking care of pets easier for the owner. One of the main services owners can find from our website is a map of pet-related places and services. With the map, the owner can easily find local pet-related businesses and places ranging from shops to parks and veterinarians. We also have informational and inspiring blogs for the users. Now we are also giving pet owners the opportunity to blog with us. As we all know, pet owners are very active online, for example by posting pictures of their cats and dogs on social media.
Our smart petcare advisor, which is first of its kind in the world, is basically a service that helps pet owners to evaluate whether they need to visit a vet or whether they can treat their pet at home. We did a survey this summer and 80 percent of the pet owners said that when they search for information concerning their pet’s health, they first Google the symptoms. Still, because they don’t trust the answers, they check with their friends and in the end visit the vet anyway, to get reassurance. This is where we can actually help and give quick and accurate answers for the pet owners when they need them the most. As a foundation of this service, we are using IBM Watson’s natural language processing and Question & Answer capabilities to return relevant answers from curated content to the user immediately.
How does the future of digital services for pet owners look like?
We believe that all services that already exist will become more digital: online stores taking more share in retail, local services relying more on online bookings, online consumer reviews increasingly affecting purchase decisions, pet associations becoming more organised and connected digitally etc.
We also believe that pet owners will add more and more information about their pets online in the future, including for example the pets’ health track records. Today people send and comment pictures and videos of their pets on social media, but in the future it will be more about keeping track of the pet’s wellbeing.
We believe that pet healthcare will become similar to human healthcare. Telemedicine is one example. In the future, telemedicine could be used as a follow up after a visit to the veterinarian and it could be applied as a complementary tool in the toolkit portfolio of veterinary clinics. For example the first conversation between the pet owner and veterinarian could be via a video chat. Telemedicine can’t be an alternative or replacement to the veterinarians since pet patients can’t talk and hence express their discomfort, a face to face meeting to observe the pet and its reactions plays a profound role.
And probably what we have seen with human health, wearable devices are now becoming more popular with pets too. Wearable devices can help you to monitor your pet’s activity and they can give information of how much your pet needs to exercise and eat. This technology is already available, however, not many pet owners are using them yet.
What kind of collaboration have Morrr and Make Helsinki done together?
Make Helsinki has been part of this project since the very beginning, supporting us with both development and design. We have benefited from their wide range of competence in digital service design, as well as their flexibility and cost-efficiency. For a startup, managing multiple partners is challenging, change is both constant and inevitable, and cost is always a concern.