Swifto, a startup that wants to be the Uber for dog walking, has raised $2.5 million from Benchmark Capital. We’re told that the funding round previously closed but the startup didn’t want to announce to the public for fear of attracting competitors.
The marketplace connects dog owners with vetted and screened walkers. But beyond just serving as a way to find someone to walk your dog, the service also lets clients view walkers’ routes. The Swifto tracking app sends clients a text at the beginning and at the end of a walk, as well as a photo along the way, and it allows owners to track a walker’s progress on a live map of Manhattan through a mobile app as the walker progresses through the route. A 30-minute dog walk costs $20.
Dog walkers use the app to track their responsibilities for each dog and to schedule walks.
The startup says that each walker is fully vetted and undergoes a background check. After meeting the standard, they then go through three interviews and a training session, and they must pass an exam. A client gets a free meet and greet with a selected walker. Only after that meeting, and once a client deems a walker to be a perfect fit, do walks commence via Swifto. Payment is taken care of automatically online via Stripe. Swifto also offers insurance to cover walkers in case of any accidents.
The startup says that after a year in business, Swifto is cash-flow positive with a 20 percent month-to-month growth rate in revenue. Sales are expected to reach $1 million this year. Swifto plans to expand to Boston by the end of the year, and both Chicago and San Francisco in 2014.
While the Uber model doesn’t apply to every vertical (i.e. Cherry) it seems to solve a problem for dog owners who want to easily find walkers, and track the walks when they are away from their pets. And so far, the Yelp reviews on Swifto are fairly positive.