Why I Invested in Dogster

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Some readers may have noticed that Dogster, the social network for dogs (along with sister site Catster), closed a $1 million round of financing last week. See TechMeme to catch up on the discussion if you missed it.

I was one of the investors in the round (and I’ve updated my disclosure statement to reflect that). A few people have asked me why I invested in this company. After all the principal founder, Ted Rheingold, doesn’t even own a pet. And if anything there are simply too many social networks out there today. Most of them will not survive.

I think I made a good investment decision though. Dogster was started on table scraps from a few friends and family of founders Ted Rheingold, John Vars and Steven Reading. These guys kept operations extremely lean from the start, and brought the company to profitability about a year ago, just shy of their two year birthday.

Growth in terms of users, page views and revenue continues to increase aggresively. And while Dogster is still small, the company continues to run on a very tight budget. No money is wasted. They even asked me for a free $200 job listing on Crunchboard. I declined, and they bought it anyway.

Big name advertisers have flocked to the site, including Disney, Target, PetSmart, Clorox/FreshStep, Gap/Old Navy, Warner Brothers, Nintendo and VPI Pet Insurance. The fact that they stay on after an initial test shows that they are getting value for their advertising dollars.

But what I like even more than the business model and growth metrics is the team. The founders are all solid, street-smart entrepreneurs. They recently brought on Jeff Clavier and Scott Rafer as advisers, two people I have a great deal of respect for. And as part of the round Michael Parekh agreed to join the board of directors of the company as well. He’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever met, and that pretty much sealed the deal for me.

As with all companies where we have a conflict of interest, we’ll disclose that when and if we write about Dogster in the future, and we’ll most likely have another writer cover them as well. In the meantime, please visit my dog Laguna’s Dogster page, and consider throwing her a bone or two.

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