Finding temporary housing for your dog should be as easy as renting an Airbnb. That’s the idea behind Rover, which raised $65 million to expand its pet sitting and dog-walking businesses.
The Seattle-based company got a significant vote of confidence from Spark Capital, which is leading the round and additional capital from existing investors including Menlo Ventures, Foundry Group, and Technology Crossover Ventures. Megan Quinn, a partner at Spark, is joining the board.
Dog boarding is a “massively untapped market,” said Quinn. “Rover is already the largest pet services marketplace in the world.”
They bought out DogVacay earlier this year, eliminating their biggest competitor. The two businesses were very similar and they have since integrated the websites. Rover CEO Aaron Easterly hopes that the DogVacay acquisition will help Rover expand internationally, especially since DogVacay was already dominant in Canada.
Rover’s site matches pet owners and pet sitters, and they take a roughly 22% cut of the transaction. They’ve introduced “Rover Go,” a premium service for sitters, which helps them photograph their house and build a better online profile. They also do background checks and offer insurance.
While it’s primarily a marketplace for dogs, Rover allows cats and other caged animals. They plan to use the funding to expand into the pet health and grooming categories and further expand their new dog walking business. “Our walking business is growing phenomenally,” said Easterly, explaining he wasn’t concerned about taking on startup Wag.
According to the American Pet Products Association, pet spending has grown every year since 1994 and reached almost $67 billion in the U.S. last year. This is partly what fueled the largest e-commerce acquisition ever, Chewy.com, a site for pet products.
Venture capitalists have taken note and have also invested in activity tracker Whistle, which was acquired by Mars. CB Insights found that funding of pet startups has increased over the past five years.
As for Rover, when asked about future plans, Easterly was optimistic that the six-year-old company will eventually be traded on the public markets. An IPO is “the most likely outcome by far,” he said.
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