“If you have the privilege to be yourself, then be yourself, because great people will support you."

My favorite quote is: “Wherever you go, there you are.” Something people don’t know about me: I was the trial person for the Guinness World Record for the longest throw of a human

Shaina Denny

Launching the next generation of dog care

A FRESH START. When Shaina Denny moved back to Los Angeles after four years of living and working in the startup scene in China, the first thing she did was get a dog. With her team still in China and no US office base, she worked from home, meaning she could keep an eye on her pup. "But was I really giving her the socialization and recreation she needed? Probably not."

Locked in Zoom meetings for most of her weekdays and with only short windows of time to enjoy taking her dog for a walk, Shaina investigated dog daycare options. "I found it very interesting, but I discovered there were all these pain points. I had to get in the car and drive to a very inconvenient location off the side of a freeway, it was difficult to reserve a spot, and there were very limited windows of time to drop off and pick up. I thought, hey, imagine if we did this a little better?"

Within a year, Shaina and her co-founder Greer Wilk started building Dogdrop, a dog care service focused on convenience, flexibility, and quality care. Customers pay a monthly subscription, from $60 for a day of daycare and benefits to $700 for unlimited daycare.

Dogdrop opened its first location in the Arts District in Downtown Los Angeles in January 2020 – in the same space as pet tech startups Wag and DogVacay. Now the business is franchising, with outposts opening in Denver and Miami. While Shaina believes franchising is the key to Dogdrop's expansion, it's a process she and Greer are approaching with extreme care. "As we've identified the problems in the existing landscape, we believe we have to start from scratch, starting from the space of the locations and if they can offer the level of care that we believe pets deserve."

A STELLAR EXPERIENCE FOR HUMANS AS WELL AS ANIMALS. While quality and expert pet care are at the forefront of Dogdrop, Shaina believes the key to its long-term success is ensuring they cater to the modern dog parent. "I grew up with dogs, but it wasn't until I got a dog of my own as an adult that it hit a little differently. Traditionally, many folks get into the dog care industry because they're dog-obsessed, but unlocking the human side is also essential. What does the pet parent need? How can we be more convenient and transparent about what's happening with their dog when they’re under our care?”

Dogdrop marks Shaina's first startup and first experience in the retail industry; her career in China saw her working at hardware companies and an electric vehicle company. While those roles gave her solid foundations to launch her own company, she admits the journey has been a steep learning curve, particularly on the people side of the business. She believes creating a thriving team culture starts at the top, beginning with complete transparency about her own identity.

"I would always say be true to yourself from day one. My co-founder and I are both queer founders, which we've been really proud to talk about. That's helped us build our community, from our customers and investors to the type of partners we're looking to work with. People appreciate that type of transparency and being genuine so much more than anything else. If you have the privilege to be yourself, then be yourself, because great people will support you."

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Presented with Pride Here is the first collection of one hundred incredible and inspiring LGBTQIA+ venture-backed entrepreneurs featured in this year's Gaingels 100.