Now that I’ve gotten your attention, DogVacay has raised $15 million to continue expanding its marketplace that connects pet owners with local, qualified caregivers who host the dogs in their homes.
Sort of like an “Airbnb for pets,” the company leverages the power of crowdsourcing, the sharing economy, and online marketplaces to provide a more loving, personal alternative to traditional boarding options, like kennels.
The goal is to give pet owners greater peace of mind when they travel, and keep the dogs happier and out of cages.
DogVacay’s sitters are screened and certified by the company. Profiles include information about the sitters’ and their homes, as well ratings and reviews. Owners can search for a situation that suits their needs, as well as book and pay online. Pets benefit from staying in a comfortable environment. With rates starting at $15 a night, DogVacay is significantly cheaper than typical kennels.
Along with supervision, DogVacay also offers complimentary insurance, 24/7 emergency veterinary care, customer service, and daily photo and video updates.
The seemingly fluffy premise has real value to investors, though. Petsitting and pet care services are an $11 billion dollar market. People love their dogs, and want to see them well-taken care of when they are away.
The business was founded by husband and wife duo Aaron and Karine Hirschorn after seeking kennel alternatives for their own dogs, Rocky and Rambo. Before starting DogVacay, they watched over 100 dogs in their home and saw there was high demand for this type of service.
The site now has more than 10,000 hosts around the country and hundreds of thousands of dog overnights have been booked.
There is significant interest on both sides of the marketplace, both for owners who need help caring for their pet, and for suppliers who can feed their bank account (and their soul) by indulging their passion for dogs.
DogVacay is a great example of a marketplace that by hitting the right market for the right service aimed at the right people, is experiencing rapid growth. The sharing economy has created an atmosphere where people not only trust strangers, but are consistently choosing their (pre-vetted) services over professionals.
Five years ago, it may have seemed insane to give your beloved dog to strangers and leave town. Now, its not only normal, but preferable.
This trend is clear across multiple industries — Airbnb for accomodation, TaskRabbit for errands, Lyft for transportation, UrbanSitter for babysitting, and so on.
DogVacay’s main competition is from Rover, a fellow “Airbnb for dogs” which has raised $15.7 million.
Foundation Capital led DogVacay’s second round of funding. Current investors Benchmark and First Round Capital, along with new investors DAG Ventures and Sherpa Ventures, contributed to the round. It brings DogVacay’s total capital raised to $22 million. It closed its first round of $6 million in November 2012.
The company is based in Santa Monica, California.
Also, please check out DogVacay’s Facebook photos if you need a quick, warm and fuzzy interlude to your day.