WagIt is an online booking platform that helps dog owners find pet-friendly places in just a few clicks. Founder Nadia Leguel was a regional finalist in The Pitch 2022, impressing our judges with her confident pitch and sector experience.
Since then, Nadia has been keeping busy. From appearing on Dragons’ Den to hosting her own doggie drag show, it’s been an exciting time at WagIt HQ.
We caught up with Nadia to hear more about what she’s been up to since taking part in The Pitch.
Easing anxiety for dog owners
Nadia started WagIt three years ago after getting Lola, her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. She struggled to find up-to-date information on whether she could bring her beloved fluffy friend with her to venues.
It’s an issue all dog owners are familiar with. Some venues advertise as being dog friendly online, but then refuse you entry or sit you outside in the rain; some venues won’t accept dogs altogether. It’s often impossible to pin down whether venues have a clear policy or if it’s solely dependent on the mood of the staff that day.
Nadia knew there had to be a better option – and that she was well-positioned to deliver it. She has extensive experience working with online booking platforms, including spending seven years at OpenTable and six years at Bookatable by Michelin.
“When Lola came into my life, I was surprised that I couldn’t go everywhere with my dog. I just couldn’t understand why you can’t book anything online. I had worked in the online reservation business, and I was used to being able to book anything in the middle of the night or whenever I wanted… WagIt was created for that reason,” said Nadia.
Creating a better experience for venues
With WagIt, dog owners can browse listings of dog-friendly pubs and restaurants in their local area. They can also find relevant services like dog groomers. Listings have useful information such as specific dog-friendly hours (e.g. one restaurant only allows dogs from midday to 6pm) and the availability of treats or dog food.
As a result, dog owners can book venues with peace of mind knowing that the venue is ‘WagIt approved’. It also benefits pubs and restaurants, who are able to better accommodate dogs if they know they’re coming in advance.
“Any dog owner will sympathise with the anxiety you feel when you walk up to a place and the manager looks at you like you’re bringing in an elephant. Then you end up sitting next to someone who stares at you the whole time. It makes it such an uncomfortable process,” Nadia said.
“We’re also trying to help businesses. If you get a booking from WagIt, you know that someone’s going to arrive with a dog so you can ask the tables next to them if they mind. It’s about trying to make the process of taking your dog out with you smoother, but statistics also show that people who bring their dogs out tend to stay longer and spend more money.”
Finding new audiences
In the last few years, Nadia has learnt a lot about her customers and refined the business as a result. One key learning was that it’s about quality rather than quantity of WagIt users. People tend to return to the same pubs and restaurants, so she’s now created a loyalty scheme.
She also has a better understanding of WagIt’s target audience. From her background, she knew that the people most likely to make online bookings for restaurants were women aged 35-45. Nadia assumed that WagIt’s audience would be the same, but it’s not the case.
“It’s the younger audience that uses WagIt a lot more, so 25-35 years old. You know, their dog has a social account and they want to showcase their life with their dog. So that’s changed how we’re doing our marketing,” Nadia said.
To reach that audience, Nadia is using TikTok but has also had success with events. Last year, she ran a “doggy drag show” which was so popular that she plans to repeat it.
If, like us, you’re desperate to see the dogs dolled up in drag, check out this reel from WagIt’s Instagram account to watch some footage from the event.
Becoming the one-stop-shop for dog owners
Nadia’s ultimate goal is for WagIt to become the go-to destination for dog owners.
“I’d like WagIt to be the one-stop-shop for dog owners. Basically, whenever they think ‘where should we go for dinner’ or ‘should we book a groomer’, I want them to think of WagIt. I want the dog owner community to really embrace the online bookings and trust the website,” she said.
“I think the word ‘trust’ is one that I use a lot. When I used to look online to go anywhere or look for groomers, I never trusted it.”
WagIt may not be there yet, but the first steps to achieving this goal are already in motion. Nadia recently launched a premium package for hospitality businesses, which includes a bespoke “dogs in hospitality” course in collaboration with the iPET Network. The course teaches staff members in hospitality how to behave around dogs and accommodate them properly.
Nadia is also planning on expanding the business outside of London next year.
“One of the things that happened when we went on Dragon’s Den is that we got bombarded with emails from the rest of the nation going, ‘why is this only in London?’”
You can find out more about WagIt’s dog-friendly venues and services on their website. Want to follow in Nadia’s footsteps and become part of The Pitch community? Sign up to our mailing list today and you’ll be the first to know when we next open for applications.