With 65,000 pet sitters and dog walkers who use its website, the Seattle company manages to draw investors looking for opportunities in the huge market for pet care and services.
It’s getting easier to convince investors that technology centered on pets really does pay off.
That’s what the team at Seattle dog-sitting service Rover.com is discovering. The 5-year-old company is pulling in a $40 million round of funding Monday, bringing its total raised to more than $90 million.
The latest round is led by existing investors Foundry Group and Menlo Ventures, with participation from Madrona Venture Group.
“In the early days of Rover, it was very difficult to get tech investors to see the opportunity,” CEO Aaron Easterly said. Failed pet e-commerce sites, such as pets.com, were thrust into the limelight during the dot-com collapse, which created concern among investors.
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No longer. Rover now has more than 65,000 pet sitters and dog walkers who use its service, which connects pet owners with caregivers when they are away. Someone books pet service using Rover every eight seconds, the company said.
Some of that business comes from people who would otherwise turn to kennels or boarding services, Easterly said, something potential investors expected in the early days. But most of the business comes from people who would rather not ask their neighbor to watch their dog again.
“After people use Rover, we displace the neighbor,” he said. “Rover does it less out of obligation and more out of love of dogs.”
Much of Rover’s business is centered in metropolitan areas, and the company plans to work on expanding to suburbs. Eventually, it expects to go international.
Expansion across borders will likely come in the next year or two, Easterly said.
“Trends that make Rover successful are population density and emotional connection to dogs,” he said. “Any place that has those dynamics, Rover can be highly successful.”
The United States certainly has the right profile. The American Pet Products Association estimates U.S. consumers will spend $62.75 billion on their pets this year.
Rover may also use some of its funding to acquire companies abroad and in the U.S. to expand geographic reach and the number of services offered.
Rover launched its newest service, Rover Card, in August. The new feature allows dog walkers to trace their route and send pictures to owners.
Rover has more than doubled in size from last year, and now has 175 employees. It will likely grow to more than 250 in the next year, Easterly said.
Easterly plans to take Rover to the public markets, though the company does not have an exact timeline for the move.