Mad Paws, Australia’s Wag, raises $5M led by airline giant Qantas

SoftBank’s Vision Fund invested $300 million into dog walking app Wag earlier this year, and a new deal on the other side of the world is evoking similarities.

Mad Paws, an Australia-based startup that offers dog-walking, pet-sitting and other services for the fluffy friend in your life, has pulled in a $5 million investment led by Qantas, the $8 billion-valued Australian airline.

Yes, it’s certainly not your average startup or investor, but already there are synergies between the two parties.

Qantas integrated Mad Paws into its flight booking website in December to let pet owners get their animal looked after when they travel, while the two have also integrated to allow Mad Paws customers to earn airline points when they use pet care services.

Mad Paws was founded in 2014 by then-student Alexis Soulopoulos after he spent time looking after a friend’s dog. The service began focused on pet-sitting, but it has expanded to cover dog walking, grooming and training. For pet-sitting, Mad Paws adopts a marketplace approach which means that people apply to become a pet-sitter.

Today, the service claims 15,000 approved sitters and dog walkers and over 300,000 pets across Australia.

Soulopoulos told TechCrunch in an interview that he wants to “cement our position in Australia” before expanding the service overseas. That said, the wheels are in motion to go into neighboring New Zealand but that is very much standard for Australia-based companies.

“In terms of moving into other countries, we have scaled the business from a tech point of view that we can do it at any time,” he added. “We are keeping the doors open.”

Qantas led the round with participation from Microequities Venture Capital and Scale Up Media Fund as well as investor backers Macdoch Ventures and Tim Fung, CEO and co-founder of task-based marketplace Airtasker. Soulopoulos said that the money will be invested in increased marketing — which include traditional media and TV — and developing technology to help match customers and service providers more efficiently.

The new funding takes Mad Paws to $6.1 million from investors to date, according to Crunchbase.