By his own admission, Paul Mann used to be a corporate stiff. All that changed — almost by accident, Mann admits — one day back in 2002 when he was looking for someone to watch his dog in a pinch. “I got very few responses back to my query,” he recalls. “And the people I met, I just didn’t feel comfortable handing them the keys to my home.”

What followed was an “aha” moment that led him to start Fetch! Pet Care, a local network of pet sitters and dog walkers that busy people like himself could rely on, especially on short notice. What started as a service for San Francisco pet owners little more than six years ago has grown into a nationwide franchise with 200 locations and a network of more than 3,800 pet sitters servicing pet owners in 1,800 cities. This past year, Fetch! ranked No. 964 on Inc.’s list of the fastest-growing private companies in the nation, bringing in $6.25 million in revenue.

Oh, did we mention he works from home?

Looking back, Mann says he wouldn’t trade his newfound flexibility as a home-based business owner for even the most prestigious office job. “I was disenchanted working in a glass fish tank,” he says.

Fetch! Pet Care’s rapid growth underscores the growing potential of home-based businesses these days. Using his technology background in systems processing, Mann built a software program that monitors and tracks everything from booked appointments to customer feedback — a completely virtual system that allows him to manage his entire company, quite literally, in his pajamas.

Photo by Fetch! Pet Care, Inc..

Originally posted by Rich Whittle on January 16, 2009 in Ideas.


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