Have you ever seen a home security video of what dogs do when their owners go to work? I like to imagine that they chill out and celebrate like teenagers whose parents are away, but that’s not usually the case. They typically either mope in the same spot for hours, or anxiously stare at the door waiting for their owner to come home (on special days, this all might be punctuated by antsy moments of ripping up the couch pillows or going through the recycling bin.) It’s a pretty sad sight.
A doggie daycare program could be a good fix, but those things are often so expensive that they can seem like an indulgence — upwards of $45 a day in major metro areas. And it’s not a guarantee that your pooch will have a good time surrounded by 30 to 40 other dogs.
DogVacay, the startup that has been billed as an ‘Airbnb for dogs’, has launched a new solution today with its Daycare product. DogVacay’s core product connects pets with local dogsitters for times when the owner is going away on a trip, and the new Daycare option does the same thing for daily pet boarding, from morning until afternoon or evening. Each DogVacay host sets his or her own price, so the rates vary, but CEO Aaron Hirschhorn said in an interview this week that the average Daycare fee is around $20 a day.
If it all goes well, Hirschhorn says the new product could open up the appetite for pet daycare services in the same way that Uber expanded the market for taxi-like services. “Currently people spend $1 billion a year on dog daycare, but we believe that is just a fraction of the possible market. Most people don’t know it’s available, or don’t have an easy option, or an affordable option,” Hirschhorn said.
And much like Uber or Airbnb, DogVacay is a cheaper option than traditional offerings because the company is a marketplace, not a kennel or dog daycare company itself. “We don’t own real estate, or employ the dogsitters. We connect people who are high quality to each other, take a small fee, and all the other earnings go to the service provider,” Hirschhorn said. DogVacay provides $2 million of liability insurance, covering the customer’s pets and any pets the host has at home.
Daycare seems like it could drastically rev up DogVacay’s revenue and usage numbers, as it opens the door to use DogVacay on a weekly or daily basis, rather than just during weekend trips and vacations. Asked whether Daycare could cause a crunch on the supply and demand side, Hirschhorn said he doesn’t foresee that as an issue. “We’ve had over 130,000 applications for people who want to be hosts throughout the U.S. and Canada, and have accepted just over 20,000,” he said. “We’re continuing to get a lot of interest there, and we’ve been able to stick to our quality standards and our vetting process.” He says the typical DogVacay Daycare host is someone who is a full-time homemaker or works from home, often with a pet of his or her own.
DogVacay, which is based in Los Angeles, has raised a total of $47 million in funding, and has about 85 full-time employees. The Airbnb for pets space is not without competition — Seattle-based dog boarding marketplace Rover has raised a total of $50.9 million