Los Angeles Business Journal

DogVacay Raises $15 Million More

By Natalie Jarvey Thursday, October 10, 2013

Bay Area investors have thrown another bone to pet sitting startup DogVacay.

The Santa Monica company announced Thursday that it has raised $15 million in series B funding.

The round, which brings DogVacay's total funding to $22 million, was led by Foundation Capital. New investors DAG Ventures and Sherpa Ventures also contributed along with existing investors Benchmark and First Round Capital.

Chief Executive Aaron Hirschhorn said the funding will be used to hire product developers to improve DogVacay’s technology and build up its customer service and community teams.

“This is essentially a people business,” Hirschhorn said. “Even though we’re a tech startup, at the end of the day, it’s somebody watching somebody else’s dog.”

DogVacay acts as a marketplace for pet sitting. Dog sitters can offer up their daycare services and list their fees, while dog owners going on vacation can search for sitters in their area, schedule a session and pay online. The service also allows people to offer dog walking or daycare.

DogVacay charges a 15 percent commission from sitters, called hosts, for every job they book. The average charge for a night of sitting is less than $30.

Since launching last year in Los Angeles, DogVacay has grown to more than 10,000 hosts across the country, Hirschhorn said.

The service itself isn’t costly to scale. Once at least one host and one owner in a particular town sign up, DogVacay is operational in that community.

But as DogVacay’s membership has grown, the company has had to increase the manpower behind its 24/7 customer service and add to its community team, the group that checks and approves all hosts before allowing them to watch other people’s pets.

Hirschhorn said the majority of the recent funding round will go toward growing the business. He expects to add as many as 25 people within the next year.

That also means DogVacay will soon outgrow its current Third Street Promenade-adjacent offices. The pet-friendly office is already packed, Hirschhorn said, with DogVacay’s current 42 employees and about a dozen dogs, depending on the day.

DogVacay last month launched a mobile app that allows owners to book sitters while on the go. Previously, the app only worked for the hosts to see incoming pet sitting opportunities.

Hirschhorn said the company will also build out separate tools for dog walkers, such as GPS tracking that allows owners to see the routes their dogs walked, or recurring billing for daycare providers.

With more than 83 million dogs owned in the United States, according to the Humane Society, Hirschhorn believes there’s room to create a big business around dog services.

“We’re investing to accelerate growth on the product and get people excited,” he said. “That’s ambitious. It takes time and people and a lot of work. It’s not something where we pour millions into marketing. We need sustainability to become the leading pet brand.”