Torontonians who are shaking up the tech sector

Torontonians who are shaking up the tech sector

Scott Darling co-founded Sniffr, a dating app for dog owners

Company HQ: King and Bathurst
Founded: 2014
Employees: 3
Contractors: 6,000, mainly in Toronto, Los Angeles and San Francisco

How it works: “You set up a profile with photos of you and your dog, and scroll through profiles of nearby dog owners. You can set up a play date for your dog, or a real date for yourself. There’s a lost-dog alert system in the app, and we offer in-app coupons for local businesses, which is one way we make money.”

Eureka moment: “Like most ideas of this type, it was conceived over dinner and drinks. My two co-founders and I were discussing how dating apps were taking off. One of them said, ‘I wish there was one for the dog park, because I always remember the names of the dogs, but not the names of the people.’ ”

How much you spent initially: “We’ve spent approximately $100,000 between the three of us.”

Your turning point: “Randi Zuckerberg, Mark’s sister, featured Sniffr as a must-have love and dating app on the Valentine’s Day edition of the Today Show. No one from the show had contacted us beforehand, so we had no idea it was happening! I eventually contacted her to thank her, and she then invited me onto her radio show. It gave us a lot of motivation—we ­realized people were noticing us.”

Your big-time backers: “Right now, my co-founders and I are the sole owners, but we’ve begun looking for investors.”

If you weren’t running a start-up: “Sniffr is a side gig. By day, I’m a capital markets vice-president at one of the Big Five banks, and I sit on the young professionals committees for the AGO and TSO.”

Tech jargon you use too much: “I dislike buzzwords. I don’t fool myself into thinking we’ll ‘disrupt’ anything or change the world. We’re creating a valuable app for dog owners, not inventing Facebook.”

Your go-to office outfit: “I like a blazer, button-up, slacks and nice leather shoes. I’m not a hoodie kind of guy.”

Your tech role model: “Simon Sinek, who has a powerful TED Talk and book called Start With Why, which changed how I think about sales.”

App you can’t live without: “Bandsintown. I love live music, and it’s a great way to keep track of who’s coming to town. I just saw Rural Alberta Advantage.”

Coolest thing in your office: “Limited-edition silkscreen rock posters, like one of Neil Young by the artist Todd Slater.”

The best advice you’ve received: “Do everything you can to become a good public speaker.”

The worst advice you’ve received: “Create an app like Sniffr for parents. The idea of putting photos of your baby on an app that uses GPS is beyond irresponsible.”