USC alumnus Adam Schechter is working with the Viterbi School of Engineering to develop Fuppy, an app that aims to help dogs and cats in shelters get adopted.
The app works with an Uber-like interface where users can first use filters to choose the type and size of the animal they are looking to adopt, and then the app pinpoints the locations of the shelters where these animals live.
Each animal has a picture and biography to help users choose the one they believe will fit their lifestyle best. After choosing, users can foster the animal for seven days, after which they will get the option to adopt, return it to the shelter or keep it until someone else chooses to foster it.
“Users are encouraged to upload pictures and videos of the animals in an attempt to foster a Yelp-type community to help user engagement and really help promote the animal,” Schechter said.
Schechter’s journey with Fuppy began when, after graduating from USC with a bachelors in economics and a masters in accounting, he started volunteering at West L.A.’s No Kill L.A. shelter while working as a full-time CPA. After volunteering for a few years, Schechter understood the way that the shelter conducted business and noticed that the system could use an update.
“In this day and age, we’ve come so far with mobile apps and connectivity that we could take this industry and really get it modernized into the 21st century,” Schechter said.
Schechter found that when he would take the shelter dogs out for walks, everyone around him would always run up to the dogs and ask where they were from, unaware that there was a shelter just 50 feet away from them.
“It occurred to me that we just need a way to connect these awesome animals with these people who may want them, and that’s the great thing about technology is the connectivity,” Schechter said.
Six months ago, Schechter reached out to USC engineers through their Facebook group, posting a description of the app and asking if anyone would be interested in helping him out. Vivek Sharma, an Android developer, and Ayberk Yilmaz, an iOS developer, came on board and told Schecter to apply for Blackstone LaunchPad USC, an Annenberg Innovation Lab program that, according to its website, provides “aspiring entrepreneurs with the tools and supportive mentors they need to transform untested ideas into vital companies.”
Blackstone LaunchPad provided Schechter with a business advisor, who told him to partner with the engineering school. This move secured him the help of 14 computer science graduate students who are currently working on the development of the app’s technology for their directed research class this semester. Schechter also received assistance from the USC Gould School of Law, which helped him complete all of his legal incorporation and 501(c)3 filings.
According to Schechter, one of the most rewarding moments of these past six months took place when he overheard the excitement and ideas after he presented the concept to the graduate students. His research also brought him to several animal shelters where the employees were excited about the effect the app could have on L.A.’s burgeoning shelter populations and said they would be on board as soon the app is completed.
The first full version of the Fuppy app is expected to be completed by the end of the semester and will be available initially for the L.A. area, but in time, Schechter hopes to expand the app nationwide.