Hitting pause and being able to pivot has been important in the paws business

Tech entrepreneur Alex Bedwani doesn’t attribute his success to a wildly ambitious vision – although many would say he has one – but to his family who instilled his work ethic at a young age.

“They’ve all taught me important things: My Mum is a pre-school teacher, she still works today and loves what she does. She taught me money is less important, you must enjoy what you do. My dad taught me the importance of looking after your team – he would move mountains for those who worked for him. My brothers taught me the importance of the hustle – the value of networks, strong relationships and negotiating.”

The founder of PetsOnMe, an online marketplace that connects pet owners with local sitters and walkers, has heeded their lessons and says he always tries to put his employee first.

“Since I was 5 years old my dad always said, ‘Son, the customer is not the most important person, the employee is. If the team is happy, they will look after the guests’. In hotels where my father worked the boss would usually eat with the guests in the restaurant, my dad preferred to eat with the team in the staff cafeteria, I always think about that – culturally how that is relevant in any business. Everybody in the team is equally important and should be valued.”

That’s not all the 31-year old has inherited from his family. He also briefly followed in his father’s footsteps with a stint in the 5-star hotel game.

“The moment my brothers and I finished school dad sent us to work at a rival hotel, with no special favours. In fact, it probably was a disadvantage as I had big shoes to fill. It was hard physical work but I loved it. It taught me how to engage with all walks of life and instilled a good work ethic - shift work is tough.”

The arduous hotel hours wouldn’t halt Alex’s creativity and entrepreneurial mindset, and he founded a dog minding service while at university. Owners would pay to connect with a vetted dog carer. It was in some ways a hotel for the dogs while the owner was on holiday. The business has undergone a significant transformation in the last decade, and he sees more change on the horizon in a quest to stay relevant.

“The biggest pivot we made was moving from a subscription-based model to a pay per use model about two and a half years ago. When we launched in 2007 there was no such thing as AirBnb or Uber so our customer was happy to pay a membership fee. As marketplaces became commonplace, asking for somebody to pay a fee just to make contact increasingly became difficult.”

According to the PetsOnMe chief, realisations like this aren’t always birthed in ‘hustle’ moments.

“I find when I’m away from the business I get the best ideas. I can take a look from the outside in. When I travel abroad I always find great ideas to implement in my business back home. If you can't step away from your business without it running smoothly, there’s a problem. I’m only as strong as my weakest link, I trust my team implicitly and in turn, I hope they trust me.”

But these idea lightening bolts come at a cost for the recently married business owner.

“Even when I’m on holidays I’m still working, the laptop is always there. In the early stages I was reinvesting most of my own money back into the business, which was a huge gamble.

PetsOnMe continues to grow across Australia and just like his business, Alex’s outlook is also maturing.

“My view on what success looks like is always evolving. It used to be all about money and material things but now it’s more around freedom and doing what I want when I want. It comes down to maturing and valuing the little time we have in our lives.”

Learn more at petsonme.com.au

 

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