You get Pooper, an app that summons someone to scoop your pooch’s waste off the sidewalk or neighbor’s lawn.
[Update: Or you get a fake app that is actually a satire on the “gig economy," as one mastermind behind Pooper acknowledged to Newsweek this weekend. We weren’t entirely fooled, but we did write the following article, which you can now read as one chapter in a performance that lived for about a week — no small feat in these times.]
Perhaps you have enough time to own a dog, feed a dog and take it on walks, but you are just too darn busy to reach down to pick up its poop. You are Pooper’s target customer.
The app, which began being marketed this week despite not being up and running yet, is supposed to work pretty much like Uber. Once your dog does its job, you open the app, pinpoint the excrement on a digital map and order a scoop. You are then free to leave; a scooper — the driver in the Uber analogy — comes to do the clean up.
That is, of course, if Pooper is real and not some sort of ironic commentary on dog obsession and the sharing economy. Its quirky video ad and motto — “Your dog’s poop in someone else’s hands” — have left some reporters skeptical. That’s prompted the people behind the app to issue a statement saying they’re fine with the doubts: All the better for spreading the word and attracting more investors.
In a phone interview from Los Angeles, co-founder Ben Becker, 32, insisted that he and Pooper are sincere.
“I am a real human being and a dog owner,” he said, adding that the other co-founder, Elliot Glass, is also a legit dog dad. They are techy types, naturally — Becker described himself as an integrated creative director and Glass as a web designer and developer.
Becker said they believe Pooper is what America needs now, because there’s too much dog waste on the streets. “It’s not our intention to ostracize,” he said. “It is our intention to solve a problem in a unique way.”
The app, he said, has already gotten sign-ups “by the hundreds,” to be both poopers (customers) and scoopers (employees), even though it is only “at the tail end of an alpha rather than a fully functional public beta” testing phase in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City. He said they hope to fully launch in those cities in the fall and then expand Pooper to as many locations as the market demands.
“It speaks to a human truth,” Becker said. “If [dog poop] wasn’t such a problem I don’t think we’d get a response that we’re getting.”
But isn’t tapping a few times on a phone just as laborious as picking up poop? Becker said he has heard that one before.
“The world is getting faster and faster every day,” he said. “People’s attention is being pulled in 10 different directions at once. … This is just going to expedite things.”
When it came to money, Becker was vague. For poopers, he said, there will be tiered payment plans. For example, a dog walker or dog hoarder might order the “unlimited premium plan that allows unlimited scoops in an unlimited radius.”
Scoopers’ compensation will vary depending on their mode of transportation and how far they travel to the job, and Becker said he was “not at liberty to disclose” how much a professional scooper might earn. But he assured that it would “absolutely” be more than minimum wage.