If you're a pet owner, you probably know how difficult it is to leave home for a few days. You want to make sure that you leave your pet in good, loving hands. I recently spoke with Adam Pokornicky, a startup founder and dog owner from New York, who's determined to solve this problem. He teamed up with his friend and fellow dog-lover, Don Joldzic to build DoggyBnB - the social network for pet care.

You can use their app to find people in your community who are happy to love and care for your pooch while you're away. It's a great way to meet fellow dog lovers while keeping your best friend happy and comfy while you're away.

As in almost every startup, Adam and Don had to stay close to their users to understand how to build the best experience for their customers - and their pups. It was great to spend some time getting a look at just how they're using Smooch to learn from their users and build bridges that are helping them create an even better product. Here's what Adam had to say on the subject:

Why did you start using Smooch in DoggyBnB?

As founders, we'd much rather have 100 customers that are completely in love with our experience than 1000 who are left confused and ambivalent about our app.

Our app is essentially a two-sided marketplace, either you have a dog and are looking for a great home for it while you're away, or you're a dog lover that would love to spend time with your friend's pup. Like most marketplaces, we knew that we'd be faced with a chicken and egg problem. If someone installed DoggyBnB and couldn't find anyone to match with, they'd simply give up.

That's why we used Smooch to play a role in each of our user's exploration of DoggyBnB. We use whispers to get our user's feedback at the most best possible time. These conversations that we started almost automatically help us get feedback while it's fresh in the minds of our users and have taught us a lot about our app.

What were you doing before you added Smooch to your app?

I was emailing people after they had used the app. The process was so... difficult. (Swear words edited out!)

Getting people to respond to an email or even to simply open it, when they'd see it out of context of the app, was incredibly challenging. I wasn't starting conversations and we weren't getting the feedback we needed. On top of it all, dealing with being dumped into Gmail's "Promotions" tab made it that much more difficult for my users to see and respond to the conversations I was trying to start with them. Smooch brought all of these discussions in app and I've been able to speak to a much larger section of my user base than before.

What are some of your learnings from talking to your customers?

Our biggest learning was how difficult our on-boarding experience was. Although we thought that one of the first problems we'd face was a lack of dog sitters in an area, it turns out that many of our users simply didn't know what to do once signing up. Smooch helped us figure this out quickly so we could plan a redesign.

Our customers were so happy that they weren't talking to a robot and actually got to know me a little. Getting to know their needs, what they were looking for with DoggyBnB and what experiences were working for them, have enabled us to really focus our development and even spin out some of our functionality into a new app.

What didn't come as a surprise however, was the fact that the users we caught in a conversation became some of our most active users. It's great for them too, since we're well aware of their pain points and can do everything in our power to make their experience awesome.

In under 10 minutes, you too can start speaking to the users of your web, iOS and Android apps through Smooch's beautifully simple, in-app messaging. [Try Smooch today!](https://app.smooch.io/signup)