The hard and fast rule in the pet industry is that if a product is available for humans, it can also be created for their furry friends. The rapidly expanding pet sector is worth $86 billion in the United States alone.
It comes as no surprise that a multitude of promising startups has entered the market in the U.S. and abroad, seeking to revolutionize pet care and transform the face of the pet industry.
Pet sitting and dog walking startup Rover.com has had a banner year. The Seattle-based firm has taken advantage of founder Greg Gottesman’s connections in the venture capital world to attract substantial investment. In 2018 alone, the firm has raked in $155 million from investors.
The company was conceived during Seattle Startup Weekend in 2011 and has grown into a nationwide service that provides access to over 200,000 pet sitters and dog walkers. With its latest round of funding, Rover is approaching unicorn status. Instead of resting on its laurels, Rover plans to launch its services in Europe later this year.
In 2014, Uber had taken the startup world by storm and was making $1.5 billion in annual revenue. Entrepreneurial brothers Jon and Josh Viner decided they wanted to develop an app that would mimic Uber’s successful ridesharing model, but with dog walkers rather than cars.
With Wag, phone GPS tracks the course of dog walks, letting owners know exactly where their dogs are at any given moment. After starting out in Los Angeles, the company quickly spread to Portland and Denver.
Wag began to pick up serious money in 2017 as they expanded into the East Coast and the Midwest. In January 2018, the company snagged a $300 million investment from SoftBank and secured a new CEO to help in their push to go global.
Renaldo Webb was the proud owner of a new puppy when he started researching pet food and realized that the dog foods on the market were mostly tasteless and largely unhealthy. Working with a vet specializing in nutrition, Webb developed a whole menu of fresh, healthy meals for his pet.
He then decided to use his business experience to bring his meal plan to the masses by launching PetPlate, a food delivery service similar to Blue Apron. A stint on Shark Tank helped to publicize Webb’s new service, and his company now offers dog meal delivery in all 48 contiguous states.
As monthly based subscription boxes gained popularity, Meetup founder Matt Meeker was looking around for a new idea after selling his startup to WeWork. He teamed up with former Joost CCO and Uber’s Carly Strife to launch BarkBox in 2011. The company offers dog owners a chance to give their pet a box full of different treats and toys each month. By 2013, the startup was making $1 million in revenue per month.
They have received more than $80 million in investments and now ship to customers in both the U.S. and Canada. With a projected 2018 revenue of $250 million, BarkBox has begun to explore going public.
In 2017, Dan Baird and Sam Worthy decided to make it easier for dog lovers to find their perfect pet without having to worry about supporting a shady backyard breeder or a cruel puppy mill. Drawing on their extensive experience in the startup community, the pair launched Tailwise in London.
The startup connects prospective dog owners with a reputable breeder, ensuring that customers receive a happy, healthy puppy. Currently, the company only works with U.K. breeders, but with the recent investment from Jenson Solutions, they expect to grow exponentially in the next few years.
Many dogs have special needs and have to stick to a particular diet. The team behind Tails.com decided to cater to these special clients by launching their own dog food startup in 2013. Customers are able to select the appropriate kibble size, ingredients, and vitamins for their individual dog.
The company also offers food without additives that cause common allergies. Since debuting, Tails.com has attracted investors like Octopus Ventures and Slingshot Ventures. In 2018, they received a large influx of cash from Nestlé Purina, the makers of Beneful and Dog Chow dog food.
Alexandre Douzet worked for a multitude of companies early in his career, including Yahoo and Citibank, but is probably best known for founding his own jobs company, Ladders. After leaving Ladders in 2014, the French entrepreneur met Gabby Slome, a New York-based marketing maven who was looking to launch a startup based on healthy dog food.
The pair translated their love of dogs and familiarity with the world of business into Ollie, a dog food delivery service that ships custom-made dog food to hungry canines. The startup has nabbed around $17 million from investors, most recently collecting $12 million in their Series A round.
8. Butternut Box
Bored with their jobs at Goldman Sachs, Kevin Glynn and David Nolan decided to ditch the world of finance for dogs in 2017. They developed a line of Butternut Box dog food and added a dash of goodwill to the proceedings by donating a free meal to shelter dogs for each Butternut Box sold.
Although the dog food delivery sector already had several pet food ventures, the pair’s enthusiasm lured investors to the startup. In February 2018, they secured a Series A round of $6 million and are busily shuttling turkey, lamb, beef and chicken meals to hungry customers across the U.K.
9. Mad Paws
With around 15,000 registered pet sitters, Mad Paws has grown from humble beginnings to become Australia’s largest pet-sitting startup. The startup also offers pet-sitting services for guinea pigs, birds, and rabbits.
In March 2018, they completed a $5 million Series A round, enticing venture capital firms like Qantas and Macdoch Ventures. Mad Paws has avoided the pitfalls that have dogged other pet-sitting startups by implementing an unusually rigorous application process for sitters.
South African entrepreneur Zubin Bhettay came to the U.S. for a job at events startup DoubleDutch but ended up staying because of his dog. After his cocker spaniel was injured, Bhettay was struck by the unnecessary expense and inefficiency of his treatment. Working with his friend Eric Palm, Bhettay launched Fuzzy, a startup that provides in-home veterinary care for dogs and cats.
The startup currently operates in and around the Bay Area in California but hopes to expand operations with the help of a new $4.5 million investment from Eniac Ventures and SV Angel.
Whether they’re dishing up doggie delicacies or exercising restless canines, these startups are taking advantage of modern technology and unfilled niches in the pet industry.
These companies have forged ahead by providing innovative ways to cater to man’s best friend and have saved pet owners time and money with the conveniences of modern technology.
Top Dog: The Most Successful Pet Startups of 2018
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