Above the Crowd

Our Most Recent Marketplace Investment, DogVacay from Los Angeles

November 13, 2012:

Earlier today, DogVacay, an exciting new startup in Los Angeles, announced that Benchmark has led its most recent round of financing. DogVacay is an online marketplace that links dog owners with passionate dog care providers who open up their own home as an alternative to the traditional cage-oriented kennel. At first blush, a web site that allows owners to book a “Dog Vacation” for their esteemed pet may seem like an unusual choice for a venture investment. However, a more analytical and detailed look at the market uncovers that this is a high potential, high probability online marketplace opportunity.

The most recent Above the Crowd blog post, titled All Marketplaces Are Not Created Equal, outlines ten different ways to judge the potential effectiveness of an online marketplace. You may be surprised how well DogVacay checks out against this list:

After taking a detailed look at the crowd-sourced dog care market; we became quite excited about the opportunity at DogVacay. In addition to our analysis, we had the added benefit that the company had been live since March, and we were able to confirm our analysis by witnessing amazing early traction in the field. DogVacay’s six-month ramp and current monthly gross transaction revenue are very reminiscent of the very best of our previously funded successful marketplaces. From out perspective, DogVacay is a winner in the making.

We are super excited to be working with Aaron Hirschhorn, the founder and CEO of DogVacay. He is not only an amazingly smart entrepreneur, but also a passionate dog owner. We are also thrilled to be working with First Round once again (as in Mint, Uber), and are excited about our first partnership with Peter Pham, Mike Jones, and the team at Science in Los Angeles.



  1. David Miller November 13, 2012

    Let’s say that a pet-owner has a good experience with a specific care-provider. What prevents a pet-owner from by-passing the platform the next time they need a sitter?

    • bgurley November 13, 2012

      Great question. I think there are a few things:
      (1) insurance coverage
      (2) ease of booking through web or mobile app
      (3) tracking features
      (4) you only can leave reviews if you have a booking, and highly reviewed sitters get more business

    • Justin November 13, 2012

      I agree. It’s like finding a good babysitter for your kids. Once you find a good one, you’re likely to stick with them and just call them up next time you need them.

  2. Daniel Horowitz November 13, 2012

    I really like this idea, and I think it’s a valuable service, but don’t you think the market size is more of an issue?

    If the market is 2.5B and you capture 10%!! that’s 250M in transactions, and you take a 10% cut this results in 25M in revenues…not all that much?

    Also, if dogvacay prices are 50% lower, doesn’t this equal an even smaller market?

    On the flipside, I do think that in the long run, with proper reputation systems, we will see individuals empowered to be service providers of all kinds. (I’m not sure about the verticalization though)

  3. Daniel Horowitz November 13, 2012

    OTOH the potential market may be a lot bigger. People avoid Kennels and/or behaviors that might cause them to need one. I can see people using dogvacay 10+ times a year. Also, long term with network effects you may be looking at capturing a rather large percentage of the market. (and expand product offerings)

  4. @chrisco November 14, 2012

    @Daniel: Bingo. Reputation systems are key to all these new P2P Marketplaces. I mean reputation has been important since eBay dayz, but is even more important when we are talking about giving strangers keys to our homes, lives, families, pets, etc.

  5. Michael Galpert November 15, 2012

    The dog sitters arent always going to be available therefore you will trust the service and the sitters with solid ratings/reviews.

    I’m a fan of the business and wish them well.

  6. Iqbal March 28, 2013

    Why is it ‘dogvacay’, not ‘petvacay’?

  7. Dori Diamond July 9, 2013

    DogVacay is especially great for us stay at home moms/dog lovers to make a little extra money for our families, while doing something we love. I was so excited to create Dori’s Doggie Domain in FL. They have hosts all around the U.S & Canada. Forget the kennel, and see if there is a host near you. You can use my coupon code DORIDOGDOMAIN for $10 off your 1st booking, even if it’s not with me 🙂 *No Expiration*

  8. Ash August 2, 2013

    I think reputation is the biggest factor in getting buyers/sellers to buy into the marketplace. As mentioned above, reviews from paying customers is great for service providers, however in addition I believe having both buyers and sellers login to their account using their Facebook credentials adds an extra layer of credibility. Limiting users to sign up just with Facebook though will reduce signups.

    Any other ideas to increase reputation?

  9. Adopting A Puppy January 7, 2014

    This is a valuable information about your dog services. I really like your idea.


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