'Collaborative consumption' and the sharing economy have created enough of a buzz to become a household name in just a few short years. From renting out rooms in your home (Airbnb.com) to peer-to-peer car-sharing (getaround.com), collaborative consumption offers a simple yet powerful solution. Now even man's best friend has joined the collaborative consumption ranks with DogVacay.com, attracting angel investors to the tune of $15 million in a Series B round of funding.
DogVacay is an application for dog owners who would like to skip town for a little vacay of their own, without their pup(s) in tow. Like AirBNB, the site provides a listing of thousand of trusted and insured dog lovers across the country ready to dog-sit your pooch like a member of their family.
It provides a comprehensive overview of each host and his or her abode, including the type of home, the size of the outdoor area, whether they can provide 24/7 supervision, and if they house other pets. Pet sitters, who are vetted by DogVacay, set their own rates and offer specialties like runs on the beach, canine massage, grooming and sleeping arrangements to differentiate their “dog vacation” option from others. Nightly rates can range from $15 to $65, but the average is under $30 a night - which makes it a lot less costly than a kennel.
DogVacay now tallies more than 10,000 hosts across the country using its platform, with an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars. Differing from the criticism found with similar "sharing" solutions, each booking includes free pet insurance and 24/7 customer support.
Hosts are screened in a process that includes an initial application, a phone interview and reference checks. DogVacay.com offers hosts instructional videos to watch and encourages dog owners and hosts to set up a preliminary meeting in advance to make sure they’re a good match for all parties concerned.
In October, the $15 million Series B round led by Foundation Capital, with an assist from DAG Ventures, Sherpa Ventures, and existing investors Benchmark and First Round Capital brings DogVacay to a total of $22 million raised since its original launch in 2012.
"DogVacay's momentum since we originally invested is similar to the trajectory we saw in other marketplace companies such as eBay, Yelp, Uber and GrubHub," said Benchmark partner Bill Gurley, in a statement. "The remarkable organic traction of its marketplace shows no sign of slowing down, and we're delighted with the impressive trajectory that lies ahead." Gurley is also a member of DogVacay’s board of directors.
"The capital will be used to further improve our customer experience and our technology," said CEO Aaron Hirschhorn, in an email.
They'll continue to scale their DogVacay Concierge, which connects pet parents an the perfect host for their pup, (even for dogs with special needs or behavior issues), and their customer support team, which is available to pet parents 24/7. "They additionally plan on creating even more innovative technology like their recently launched DogVacay app that helps pet parents stay in touch with their host and dog during their own Vacay," added Hirschhorn.
So, is collaborative consumption a disruptive idea? Time Magazine's March 17, 2011 feature "10 Ideas That Will Change The World," seems to think so. They note that the financial crisis of 2007-2010 has prompted consumers to reconnect through peer-to-peer marketplaces that turn underutilized assets and resources into new jobs, income streams and community networks. With DogVacay following that trend, I guess it gives a whole new meaning to the concept of being "sent to the dog house!"