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..

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