DogVacay inches toward profitability with pet-sitting business

Known as an “Airbnb for dogs,” Santa Monica-based DogVacay has spent almost five years building a robust dog-sitting business.

Betting that owners were looking for better solutions for boarding their pets, DogVacay created a platform that made it easier to find and book affordable care. From overnight stays to dog walking, DogVacay offers a range of services in regions throughout the United States and Canada.

With the company on track for $70 million in gross merchandise volume, DogVacay tells TechCrunch that they expect to hit profitability in 2017. The site matches owners and sitters and DogVacay takes a cut of each transaction.

CEO Aaron Hirschhorn tells us that he estimates boarding to be a $7 billion market, and they hope to capture a growing portion of that. “There’s a tremendous amount of demand,” he said. But they’ve also found over 30,000 vetted hosts who want to make “extra money watching dogs.” (Cats, chickens and chinchillas are also welcome).

As with many marketplaces, the trick is “balancing supply and demand at the hyperlocal level,” said Hirschhorn. He’s welcoming CTO Michael Root to build a better platform for both pet owners and sitters.

But DogVacay is not the only option on the market. Seattle-based Rover has been gaining significant traction, raising an additional $40 million this week.

Totaling $90 million, Rover has more funding and in many metrics is a bigger business, including its $100 million revenue run rate. But DogVacay is close behind and makes more money per host, on average.

DogVacay has raised nearly $50 million, dating back to 2012. Investors include Andreessen Horowitz, Benchmark and First Round Capital. The company will not disclose valuation, but Zirra estimates that it’s between $150 million and $200 million.

Ultimately, pet owners “want someone who’s going to take care of your animals and love them as much as you do,” said Root.