I had the idea of Dupaws back when I was in Saudi Arabia in 2011. I had 2 cats then and never found a perfect place to leave them when I travel. It was a nightmare trying to find someone on old forums and the only info I got about them is their email address and weird nicknames.
I realized it would be great if I we have a website where all pet sitters can be found and where I can know more about them before I contact them. This is where I decided to make such a platform, but the problem was I didn't have coding experience. Although I come from Tech background (I am actually a CCIE) and done massive network and security projects, but never done a software project.
I contacted my uncle who has been a software developer for 25 years, I told him about this idea but he wasn't interested in it and gave me tons of excuses. Then I decided to outsource the project to 3rd party software company (Thank God I didn't). I started contacting software development companies and asking them for portfolio, then I realized that those guys aren't good, they dont care about you or your business or idea. They just want your money. They will build rubbish product that isn't scalable or functional and will keep charging for changes.
Then I decided to learn to code and do it myself! I thought to myself. At that time I was working a full time job and had to start learning C# (Web API), SQL database and VueJS in addition to CSS, HTML and the other stuff that comes along.
I spent almost 6 months just learning without writing the app itself, just wanted to wrap my head around the technologies.
After a year of tinkering, I finally launched the website, I created one pet sitter profile for myself (and wanted to set an example for other sitters to see what details needs to be included). However since I didn't have experience back then, I built Dupaws as a SPA, I assumed that Google would be able to index my pet sitters pages and rank me properly when I have more users, but it turned out I was wrong!
I was really worried initially as the only way for me to acquire pet sitters/customers was through Google or Facebook Ads. In the first few days I spent 4000 USD from my own pocket to get my first 100 pet sitters and 400 customers. Then I reached out to a friend who is expert in Google advertising, and asked him how can I approach this. He told me that search keywords for my website "pet sitting, pet boarding etc" are too low! and the competition is very high on those keywords as pet sitting companies are few and dominating the market.
Eventually I decided to build an MVC (server side pages that can be indexed properly by Google) for all the pet sitters on my platform, this way I might get some organic traffic. Thankfully I managed to get to first page on almost all the keywords that I was after. and this is when I started generating 1.5k to 2.5k per month.