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Melbourne couple’s startup aims to be Airbnb for pets

Monday, 2 June 2014 | By Kye White

Melbourne startup PetHomeStay is hoping to be the Airbnb for pets.


The service allows pet owners to find people in their area who are able to care for their pets while providing information about the style of care they will provide and how much they will charge.


After moving to Melbourne in 2012 dog lovers and co-founders Bronwyn and Tom LeGrice didn’t know anyone who could look after their dogs when they were way.


They hated the idea of leaving them in a cage at the kennels and found the price too expensive anyway.


It was that experience that led them to come up with the concept for PetHomeStay.


“The sharing economy or collaborative consumption business models are being embraced by people all across the world, because they make people’s lives way easier and cheaper using technology,’’ Tom says.


“Similar to Airbnb, we also try to create a strong bond between our hosts and guests because as well as being a valuable service to pet owners, a lot of our business depends on trust and community.”


The startup was founded in August 2012 and relaunched as a paid service in February this year.


It has over 250 hosts across Melbourne and LeGrice says it’s growing in Sydney in other major cities, around 2000 nights of boarding have been booked through the service.


Once a pet owner has found a host, they pay them using the PetHomeStay website, the startup then takes a service fee of 15%.


LeGrice says one of the main ways in which PetHomeStay differs from other pet-sitting services is because it offers insurance.


“We provide comprehensive public liability cover to the host for up to $10 million if anything happens whilst the pet is in their care,” LeGrice says.


“That is the only cover of its type in the Asia-Pacific and exclusive to PetHomeStay.


“As of June 1, we will also be providing pet accident and emergency cover for the guest pet.”


LeGrice says securing that insurance cover was integral to PetHomeStay’s chance of success.


As it provides free introductions to pet owners and potential hosts, there’s always the possibility they pay the fee without going through the PetHomeStay service.


“Exclusive insurance gives both the host and the guest a compelling reason to use our website and enables us to be a valuable partner to them both rather than a gatekeeper,’’ he says.


The company has already secured seed funding and is currently in discussions with potential partners about a series A funding round later this year.


“Our vision is to make it easier, cheaper and more fun to own a pet,’’ he says.


“I want PetHomeStay to help people balance their lives with animals and experience the joy of that relationship.”