This App Is Like Tinder For Dogs & The Torontonian Behind It Explains Why He Made It

You can swipe until you find the perfect match for your pup — or you.

This App Is Like Tinder For Dogs & The Torontonian Behind It Explains Why He Made It
Colin Jarvis-Gaum, Brooke Houghton | Narcity

Have you ever wished your dog could use Tinder to find playmates?

Colin Jarvis-Gaum, a 27-year-old fourth-year environmental science and tech student at Ryerson University, has spent the past three years developing an app to help you do just that.

Pawmates helps dog owners find compatible playmates for their dog based on the dog's bio, pictures, age and location, and just like Tinder, you can swipe right for a match with the added bonus of possibly finding a match for yourself.

The app — which is funded, coded and created by Jarvis-Gaum — started as a passion project designed to help create connections and now has over 10,000 users.

The inspiration behind Pawmates

Jarvis-Gaum was driven by the need to find a compatible friend for his elder golden retriever Pal, who was slowing down and losing interest in playing with the younger pups at his local park.

"We thought it would be nice if we could find him playmates that were more his speed," Jarvis-Gaum told Narcity.

He took Pal to the same park at the same time every day "like clockwork," and Javis-Gaum says he started to wonder, "How many people come through this park all day and we've never met them before?"

"It came through this idea of a platform where people could meet, chat and interact really easily with all of the other people around them," Jarvis-Gaum said.

"I also realized when I was doing research that when people are looking for dates, in terms of modern dating, if someone isn't a dog person, that's an immediate deal-breaker. So I realized that that could be another side to this, where people who are dog moms and dog dads could get that out of the way immediately."

"That they could immediately find out who is and isn't a dog person and they could go from there."

From that idea came Pawmates, and although its inspiration, Pal, has since passed away, Jarvis-Gaum continues to help other dogs and their humans find connections.

How the app developed and where it is today

When Jarvis-Gaum came up with the idea for Pawmates, he had no idea how to code an app to connect dog lovers and their pets.

"I knew absolutely nothing about coding; I had never coded before, so I kind of had to learn along the way," he said.

"I watched a lot of YouTube videos, and I had people who helped me learn the ropes along the way as I started this."

Jarvis-Gaum hired online teachers to help him learn how to code, and as similar apps started to pop up, he learned from their reviews what users wanted — a free subscription and bug-free app.

"I noticed [similar apps] starting to come up, but they had troubles," he said. "I knew I couldn't go for it until I had a good working model that I could comfortably give to people for free and manage well."

Jarvis-Gaum has released over ten versions of Pawmates since its initial release in 2018 and invested several thousands of dollars into the app. Although he is a full-time student, he says he spends 40 to 50 hours a week managing the app.

The app currently doesn't bring in any revenue, but Jarvis-Gaum hopes to change that with selective partnerships in the future.

But when it comes to what he wants to see from the app in the next five years, Jarvis-Gaum says he hopes to "have a lot of happy people that have been using it for a long time. Hopefully, some great success stories about people that have met great friends, lifelong friends or met someone special."

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Brooke Houghton
Brooke Houghton is a contributing writer for Narcity Media based in Toronto, Ontario.