High-tech doggie daycare
DogVacay, the site that matches people who need a dog sitter with people who are interested in caring for dogs in their homes, is growing faster than a kibble-guzzling puppy.
The company, which launched in March and has about 8,000 hosts signed up on its network, recently hit $1 million in payments to its hosts. It's just received a $6 million investment from Benchmark Capital, co-founder and CEO Aaron Hirschhorn revealed today.
The site, which acts like an Airbnb for dogs, offers an affordable -- and more social -- alternative to kennels for dog owners, while giving hosts an extra source of income or the chance to have some cute and furry houseguests. Hirschhorn said the average price of a DogVacay stay is $28 a night, compared with $55 a night for a San Francisco dog kennel.
The number of hosts is double what the service reported in June, and, according to DogVacay, the company's revenue has grown an average of 60 percent per month since it started. In addition to Benchmark Capital's investment, Benchmark general partner Bill Gurley is joining DogVacay's board of directors. The $6 million is on top of an undisclosed sum VC firm Andreessen Horowitz invested in DogVacay earlier this year.
The company started with initial funding from Science Inc., the technology studio founded by former MySpace CEO Michael Jones.
Hirschhorn said the latest cash infusion, and Gurley's position on the board, is a vote of confidence that will help DogVacay's growth.
DogVacay, which is now available in the U.S. and Canada, is also looking at expanding overseas. The company is building a mobile app for release early next year, so owners can check on their pets on their mobile devices. And new animals may join the pack.
"I've got all the vacays," Hirschhorn said, referring to URLs. "Iguana vacay, hamster vacay -- we'll see where we can solve another problem for pet parents out there."
The site prides itself on keeping owners worry free. Of the 100 host applications that DogVacay receives each day, a third are accepted after a screening process that involves background checks and interviews. Owners can also meet hosts and write reviews, and the company offers training videos for hosts and an insurance policy for owners.
During the stay, hosts send owners daily updates with photos, and now DogVacay has purchased GPS tracking collars that show owners where their dogs are and how much exercise they are getting. More features are in the pipeline, Hirschhorn said.
"The dog can't write a review, but we're hoping to get a dog's parents as comfortable as possible," he said.
Correction at 7:30 a.m. PT: The name of the Benchmark Capital general partner who is joining DogVacay's board was incorrect. It is Bill Gurley.