The company, which provides a service to replace kennels for dog owners, has been operating since 2012 and has now raised a total of $47 million. In October 2013, DogVacay raised a $15 million Series B led by Foundation Capital, with participation from existing investors including GSV Capital, Science Inc., First Round Capital, Benchmark, Foundation Capital, and DAG Ventures.
DogVacay lets users sign up as a host or dog owner so that owners who go out of town can find someone reliable and affordable to lookafter their pooch. It works very similarly to Airbnb, offering 24/7 customer support and insurance policies to ensure that man and man’s best friend are properly cared for. The service promises no cages and loving attention for your pet at a lower price point than you’d see at a traditional kennel service.
DogVacay has grown quickly over the past year, with 20,000 dog watchers listed on the platform. The company last month announced a million nights booked, with 90 percent of those bookings happening in the past 18 months. Clearly, the company has found its stride.
DogVacay says the money will go toward building out the service and improving the quality of the product.
However, I asked cofounder Aaron Hirschhorn how he planned to maintain the same level of customer care and quality assurance when the service is growing so rapidly.
“As we scale the business, retaining that high customer care mentality is incredibly important to us,” said Hirschhorn. “Customer care accounts for more than half of the company, and we want to talk to everyone so that we can make decisions thoughtfully.”
DogVacay ensures that everyone gets a good experience, limiting hosts to three dogs at a time to watch, and following up on every review that is less than five stars. On average, most reviews come in around 4.96 stars.
DogVacay also maintains a high level of quality by putting hosts through a more rigorous testing and training process than you even see on a site like Airbnb. Hosts must fill out an application, watch videos, take a test, go through a phone interview, and are continually educated and trained as they start working on the platform.
DogVacay takes 15 percent from every transaction that goes through the site, and Hirschhorn mentioned that around 20 percent of users account for 80 percent of the company’s revenue, as some turn it into a full-time job and take home between $70k and $90k a year. The other 80 percent of hosts frequent the site less occasionally and make up the other 20 percent of the company’s revenue, which DogVacay did not disclose.
“Our biggest challenge is to not only find more pet sitters and hosts because we have plenty,” said Hirschhorn. “We’ve received over 100,000 applications this year and accepted only around 20,000. Instead, we want to find the best hosts and train and support them in an ongoing way, so that they are providing a high quality experience and spreading the word as they do it.”
DogVacay currently operates in over 300,000 cities in the United States and Canada, but Hirschhorn is looking forward to international expansion.
“The hardest thing about expanding into a new country with a model like ours is that you really have to start over from scratch each time,” said Hirschhorn.
If you want to learn more about DogVacay, head over to the website here.