Los Angeles-based Dog Vacay, an online site that allows pet owners to find home-based boarders and other dog service providers, raised $1 million in seed funding to help it expand nationally in a financing round led by Santa Monica, Calif.-based First Round Capital, the company reported today.
The site allows professional and casual pet care providers in Los Angeles and San Francisco markets to sign up for free and market their services to dog owners, with a major draw of providing boarded dogs with a home, “cage-free” environment at much less expense than a commercial boarding facility. The company says its home-based boarding services average half the price of kennel boarding. Dog hosts set their own prices.
“First Round Capital looks for innovative ways the web can disrupt large and inefficient markets, especially those with high rates of dissatisfaction, like dog boarding,” said Howard Morgan, managing partner at First Round. “With Dog Vacay, we see a very unique way to leverage a passionate community of dog lovers into a collaborative network that gives dog owners a better solution to the $10 billion pet services market.”
Dog Vacay also provides medical insurance to boarded dogs, screens dog hosts, and provides emergency support to both hosts and customers, the company said. It charges a 5-10 percent service fee for service bookings (all bookings are required to be made through Dog Vacay or host will be booted). Service fees go down the more business a host books. The site also charges the same service fee for other services it lists, including dog walkers, trainers, day care providers and pet sitters.
“The response to Dog Vacay has been overwhelming, and we’re seeing tremendous demand to offer the service across the country,” said Aaron Hirschhorn, founder and CEO of Dog Vacay. “We’re going to rapidly deploy across the country in the coming months and are gearing up for the very busy spring and summer travel season.”
The company said more than 3,000 people had applied to become dog hosts on Dog Vacay, with about 1,000 accepted to date.
In addition to going national, the company has also registered related domains, including CatVacay.com, PetVacay.com, SnakeVacay.com, BirdVacay.com, FishVacay.com and HamsterVacay.com.
As part of the funding, Morgan and Science Inc. CEO Mike Jones will join Hirschhorn on the start-up site’s board.
Jones, former CEO of Myspace.com, founded Science in November 2011 as a technology studio designed to create, acquire and grow digital businesses. Science Inc. backed the March 1, 2012, launch of Pet Vacay, the company reported.
Other investors include Ted Rheingold, founder and general manager of Dogster.com, owned by Say Media, another First Round portfolio company.