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In November 2014, Shani Judes and her partner got a dog: a Welsh Terrier named Bennett. Wanting to make a dog a part of their family and to take him along whenever possible, Judes began looking online for dog-friendly restaurants, shops, hikes, and other activities. She soon realised that it was difficult to find a central database for this information – she wanted something fast and easy.
A few months later, in March 2015, Judes decided to build an app with all the information dog owners in South Africa would need.
“I was like, I want to have this information in the palm of my hand,” she said. “So I decided I was just going to go ahead and create the app.”
With this, DoggyDo was born.
She’d had a few other experiences with app building, so Judes embarked on a mission to create smartphone application for South African dog-owners. Three months later, in June, the app went live.
“DoggyDo aims to provide a comprehensive platform for South African dog owners in the palm of their hands,” Judes said. “[It’s] easy to use, has a simple design and it’s a great platform for dog-friendly business owners to promote their businesses. One of the main sections is the dog rescue category, which allows for those NGOs to have a space to reach more people and shows those wanting to get a dog that there are many great organisations in need.”
The app offers twelve categories listing pet-friendly businesses and services: Dining Out, Holiday, Vets, Emergency, Shops, Online Shops, Dog Sit, Dog Walk, School, Groomers, Dog Chow, Portraits, Dog Rescue, Events, Camping, Beaches, Trails, and Parks. Users can also build a profile for their dog and connect with other dog-owners nearby. Since it’s launch, the app has over 4000 downloads.
Judes isn’t an app-builder by trade: she’s an artist. She received a diploma in photography from CityVarsity School of Media and Creative Arts in 2007.
As soon as she finished studying, she got a job at a photographic studio and realised she didn’t want to work there. Soon, she started working as an agent for photographers. With Ricky Lee Gordon, a friend who was an agent for graffiti artists, she started a company called Word of Art. Two years later, in 2011, she sold her share in that company and went on to start SJ Artists, an artist management company.
“I represent graffiti artists, photographers, illustrators, animators,” Judes said. “I match the artists up to work and…a client can come to me and say ‘I’m looking for a mural artist to paint a mural’ or ‘I’m looking for a photographer to shoot this’ and I’ll go find the right person and I’ll manage that process.”
Judes is also involved in the Cape Town artist community and in several events. She’s been the festival manager of the Wavescape Surf Film Festival – which takes place in Cape Town, Knysna, and Durban – since 2012. Since 2013, she’s directed 1000 Drawings Cape Town, an empowerment project that culminates in an inner-city art sale fundraiser. She’s the co-founder of Township Art Tours, a project that takes tourists to see art in the townships, and the project manager for Art54, a temporary outdoor art exhibition.
Right now, she’s balancing her various projects but concentrating on DoggyDo. In the future, her goal is to get the app to go global by getting submissions beyond Cape Town and South Africa.
“Eventually, hopefully soon, I would like to take this global,” Judes said. “Because I think there are other places in the world that could definitely make use of it. I know New York is not all that dog-friendly, which means that dog owners in New York would like to know where they can go…I would like to start spreading it out there.”
Listen to Shani Judes’ interview below: