Camden resident creates innovative social app for pets and pet lovers

Dynamic duo: Chris Russell and his beloved frug Daisy. Picture: Chris Lane
Dynamic duo: Chris Russell and his beloved frug Daisy. Picture: Chris Lane

If you're a dog person, there's nothing you love more than talking about your four-legged friend.

The pooches are more than just pets - they're family.

Camden's Chris Russell knows this all too well. The 52-year-old welcomed adorable frug (French Bulldog cross Pug) Daisy to the Russell family four years ago, and his life changed for the better.

Daisy soon became so ingrained in Mr Russell's life that he was doing everything with her.

That's when he got the idea for an app that not only brings proud pet owners together in one place, but also provides valuable information about pet-friendly venues, lost animals and more.

Fast forward to this August and Baxta - a pet-based social media platform - was launched in the App Store.

"It's been a really big journey to get to this point, but we've launched now and the app is fully out there and functioning," Mr Russell said.

"I'm a bit old school, and apps and social media are definitely more of a newer technology, so at first I was just thinking, 'what have I gotten myself into?' - the language and the way things are done are totally different to anything I know.

Inspiration: Daisy the frug is the inspiration behind Baxta.

Inspiration: Daisy the frug is the inspiration behind Baxta.

"But once I started working with the teams it was really good fun, and I've got a new lease of life in the business world.

"After 22 years in one industry I thought I was ready to retire, but I'm just starting here.

"Having a passion and love for pets and animals - and, of course, Daisy - is what made me think about this app and chase it."

Mr Russell said wandering around Macarthur with Daisy in tow was the biggest inspiration behind Baxta.

Every morning he heads to Jally's in Camden to get a coffee and a peanut butter ball, which he shares with the frug.

Mr Russell said he wanted to know which beaches were dog-friendly, and which pubs would allow puppy patrons.

Baxta brings all that information together, and allows pet owners to share their dogs lives with a community of like-minded animal enthusiasts.

Founder Chris Russell with Daisy.

Founder Chris Russell with Daisy.

"We had a focus group about two weeks ago with some of our users, and we wanted to know what they felt the biggest differences were between Baxta and other social platforms like Facebook or Instagram, where they all had profiles for their pets," Mr Russell said.

"They said the difference was Baxta is a place where you can be a little silly, and take on the persona of your animal, talk on their behalf - you know the personality of your dog or cat and you can speak like that.

"It's a real safe space to be silly like that. Pets and animals are like your kids, but on Facebook and Instagram, if you go too hard with your animals pictures, your friends that don't have animals get a bit tired or feel like you're bombarding them.

"But in the Baxta community, everyone is like-minded and part of the animal community."

Mr Russell said, especially at this time, if someone is having a hard day, logging into Baxta and seeing cute animal photos would "make people feel warm, fuzz and safe".

He said the launch with Apple had been a great learning ground and the tech team had already made improvements since August 1.

Baxta will launch on Android devices and on the web in December.

The app already includes details on 10,000 pet-friendly services and has 2000 users.