Mad Paws raises $1.1 million as pet-sitting competition gets ruff – StartupSmart

There’s a search on for the next big thing in the sharing economy and investors around the world are backing pet-sitting marketplaces in the hopes of finding it.


Among them is Australian startup Mad Paws, a pet services marketplace that announced on Thursday it had raised $1.1 million from Macdoch Ventures, HotelsCombined co-founder Michael Doubinski, Commonwealth Bank Group executive Matt Comyn, and Amazon Web Services managing director ANZ Paul Migliorini.


The startup helps pet owners find pet-sitters. It’s a competitive space in Australia. Late last year Pawshake raised $1.5 million in “pre-series A” funding from AirTree Ventures. PetHomeStay is another pet-sitting marketplace, which relaunched early in 2014.


In the United States, where the pet grooming and boarding industry is worth $6 billion and growing at 6.2%, there’s DogVacay which raised $25 million in November, and which raised $25 million in March.


Mad Paws has over 3500 verified pet sitters on its platform, and says bookings, of which it takes a 15% cut, are growing at 50% month-on-month. Unlike Pawshake, which has launched in 16 markets in addition to Australia, Mad Paws is focusing exclusively on the Australian market, co-founder Alexis Soulopoulos says.


“It allows us to be super, super close to our users,” Soulopoulos says.


“Our focus is 100% winning in Oz. Having a large number of sitters on the platform is only the beginning. It is very important to connect demand with supply in a smart way.”


Soupoloulos says he’s personally called and spoken to over 1000 pet-sitters and customers himself, as the Mad Paws team has worked to understand their growing base of users. He credits the insights gained from those conversations for Mad Paw’s current growth rate.


“All of those insights are constantly being translated to our website in order to make this a scalable business, and also to our customer-facing processes,” he says.


The startup plans to use the funding to grow its team of full-time staff from four to eight and ramp up its marketing efforts.


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