DogVacay, the Los Angeles-based startup that operates a pet boarding marketplace dubbed “Airbnb for Dogs,” today announced it has raised $15 million in new funding.
The new funding round, which serves as a Series B of DogVacay, was led by Foundation Capital with participation from existing investors Benchmark and First Round Capital as well as new investors DAG Ventures and Sherpa Ventures. This brings the total venture capital investment in DogVacay to $22 million.
In an interview this week, DogVacay Founder and CEO Aaron Hirschhorn said the new funds will be used to continue to grow the company’s marketplace platform across the United States and eventually into an international market. . Today, the company has over 10,000 hosts who have booked hundreds of thousands of dog sitting appointments through the site.
One of the main goals will be to hire more full-time staff – at present, DogVacay has 42 employees at its Santa Monica headquarters, and Hirschhorn expects this to increase by 50% in the coming months. You can watch him discuss all of this and more, including how DogVacay could expand beyond pooches and other pets, how it differentiates itself from rivals such as Rover, and its strategy to ensure that people use the site to both find and repeatedly book good pet sitters. , in the video embedded above.
With serious funding comes serious responsibility, especially in the peer-to-peer marketplace space — and in recent months, startups such as Lyft and Airbnb have faced major regulatory hurdles to develop their own. respective market activities after securing significant funding rounds. But Hirschhorn said in a short chat following our video chat that while DogVacay is also entering a hugely lucrative industry — the US pet market was worth $11 billion last year — it should be a bit more. safe from such attacks as other market pioneers. because of the angle it takes. He put it like this:
“The only fundamental difference with DogVacay is that, although the hotel lobby and the taxi lobby are very powerful, there is not really a “kennel lobby” per se… When we talk to our current customers and ask them what they did with their pets before DogVacay, they often say that they left their pet with their brother, or their mother, or their friend.So in many ways, our biggest competition is friends and family.
In a separate phone call this week, Benchmark’s Bill Gurley said his company decided to bet on DogVacay in part because of the size of the pet owner market, and the traction and loyalty that it sees in customers who have used the service. “Everyone’s first instinct might be to underestimate this…but the more you see the numbers, and the more time we spend thinking about it, it’s a huge opportunity,” Gurley said.
With 78 million dogs in the US, there is indeed a big opportunity for a platform that helps people take care of them – so it will be interesting to see DogVacay grow with the new funds in the months to come.