Online dog fight: Rover.com rival DogVacay launches Airbnb for pets

This could be one very interesting dog fight. A new startup company out of Los Angeles by the name of DogVacay is getting some attention today after it launched an online marketplace for pet owners to find nearby lodging for their dogs.  Basically, it’s an Airbnb for pet care.

Sound familiar? It should since Madrona Venture Group’s Greg Gottesman initially pitched the very same concept at a Startup Weekend event in Seattle last year, eventually forming a new company by the name of Rover.com. Rover.com launched in Seattle in December, and has since expanded to Portland. DogVacay, led by the husband-and-wife team of Aaron Hirschhorn and Karine Nissim Hirschhorn, unveiled its service today in L.A. and San Francisco.

It’s unclear how the Hirschhorn’s are bankrolling their new venture, though TechCrunch reports that the idea sprung out of the LA tech incubator Science.

Rover.com is a new online marketplace where dog owners can discover pet sitters

An SEC filing from January indicated that Rover.com had raised $1.8 million, but the company declined to comment on its financing efforts at the time.

Now led by online advertising veteran and pet lover Aaron Easterly, Rover boasts “thousands” of members in Portland and Seattle with daily requests to expand to new cities. Of course, that expansion plan is in the works, though Easterly didn’t provide details on when they might head to California or other markets.

Easterly said that he’s aware of DogVacay, adding that they are keeping close tabs on all of the potential competitors.

“We think imitation is not only flattering but also confirms that dog care is a multi-billion dollar industry that is desperately in need of more robust and innovative solutions,” Easterly tells GeekWire. “At Rover.com, we will continue to be the clear leader in this space, but we expect others to periodically hit the radar precisely because it is such a large, fragmented market.”

In order to help with expansion and branding, Rover.com recently named Shanthi Sitterud (formerly of Microsoft and Razorfish) as vice president of marketing.

Both Rover and DogVacay say that their model is cheaper than “doggie retreats,” some of which can cost upwards of $50 per day. They also say the service is better than a kennel where dogs don’t always get the love and attention that can be found in a home environment.

“I don’t think anyone solves dog owner’s problems well — and so I think there is a huge opportunity in this area,” Gottesman said at the time of Rover’s launch. “(This) is a superior solution, and it is one of those rare times when you can actually spend less money and have a far superior solution.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/robofhood Robert Hammond

    business is getting ruff.

    • johnhcook

      Robert, can we employ you as a GeekWire headline writer? :)

  • Anonymous

    Love the idea for my dog he hates the kennel.  Checked out both sites but really like the dogvacay design. Their video is really funny.

  • Guest

    Seamus would have benefited from this.

  • Rebecca Cosloy

    Cheaper does not mean better! How well does Rover and DogVacay screen these at home contractors? Leaving your dog with random person trying to make cash might save you a few bucks but does the person have any training in animal care? Will they know what to do when a fight breaks out between multiple dogs or a dog chokes because they gulped down a chew treat?

    • Cori Collin

      They do background checks on the sitters at the cost of the sitter. If a background check has not been done then they won’t receive the background check icon/badge on their profile. You can also request a background check be done to your sitter and once they have completed one and it has been verified then that icon/badge will show up on their profile.

    • Cori Collin

      Oh and these background checks are renewed every 6 months I think it is so it is up to date.

  • Cori Collin

    Both places do background checks on their sitters at the cost of the sitter so it is completely safe. I have signed up with both places, but find that I get a ton of more business from Rover.com than DogVacay which tells me a lot. Rover is a better place. Plus, something I like that DogVacay doesn’t have is the option to receive notifications right to your cell phone when someone inboxes you for a job. If I’m not getting many messages from the site when I login, I won’t login as much like other pet sitters.