So what’s the poop on the Pooper app?

The Hamilton Spectator - - BUSI­NESS - KARIN BRUL­LIARD

What do you get when you com­bine a pop­u­la­tion too busy to look up from its smart­phones and 78 mil­lion pet dogs? A po­ten­tial “one-tap econ­omy.” And Pooper, an app in the United States that sum­mons some­one to scoop your pooch’s waste off the side­walk or neigh­bour’s lawn.

Per­haps you have enough time to own a dog, feed a dog and take it on walks, but you are just too darn busy to reach down to pick up its poop. You are Pooper’s tar­get cus­tomer. The app, which was be­ing mar­keted this past week, de­spite not be­ing up and run­ning yet, is sup­posed to work pretty much like Uber.

Once your dog does its job, you open the app, pin­point the ex­cre­ment on a dig­i­tal map and or­der a scoop. You are then free to leave; a scooper — the driver in the Uber anal­ogy — comes to do the cleanup.

That is, of course, if Pooper is real and not some sort of ironic com­men­tary on dog ob­ses­sion and the shar­ing econ­omy. Its quirky video ad and motto — “Your dog’s poop in some­one else’s hands” — have left some re­porters skep­ti­cal.

That’s prompted the peo­ple be­hind the app to is­sue a state­ment say­ing they’re fine with the doubts: All the bet­ter for spread­ing the word and at­tract­ing more in­vestors.

In a phone in­ter­view from Venice, Calif., co-founder Ben Becker, 32, in­sisted he and Pooper are sin­cere.

“I am a real hu­man be­ing and a dog owner,” he said, adding that the other co-founder, El­liot Glass, is also a le­git dog dad. They are techy types, nat­u­rally — Becker de­scribed him­self as an in­te­grated cre­ative di­rec­tor and Glass as a web de­signer and devel­oper.

Becker said they be­lieve Pooper is what Amer­ica needs now, be­cause there’s too much dog waste on the streets.

“It’s not our in­ten­tion to os­tra­cize,” he said. “It is our in­ten­tion to solve a prob­lem in a unique way.”

The app, he said, has al­ready got­ten sign-ups “by the hun­dreds,” to be both poop­ers (cus­tomers) and scoop­ers (em­ploy­ees), even though it is only “at the tail end of an al­pha rather than a fully func­tional pub­lic beta” test­ing phase in Los An­ge­les, San Fran­cisco and New York City.

He said they hope to fully launch in those cities in the fall and then ex­pand Pooper to as many lo­ca­tions as the mar­ket de­mands.

But isn’t tap­ping a few times on a phone just as la­bo­ri­ous as pick­ing up poop? Becker said he has heard that one be­fore.

When it came to money, Becker was vague. For poop­ers, he said, there will be tiered pay­ment plans. For ex­am­ple, a dog walker or dog hoarder might or­der the “un­lim­ited pre­mium plan that al­lows un­lim­ited scoops in an un­lim­ited ra­dius.”

Scoop­ers’ com­pen­sa­tion will vary de­pend­ing on their mode of trans­porta­tion and how far they travel to the job, and Becker said he was “not at lib­erty to dis­close” how much a pro­fes­sional scooper might earn. But he said it would “ab­so­lutely” be more than min­i­mum wage.


Just post poop online for pickup.

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