If the internet has taught us anything it is that people are crazy about their pets. In the last two years the tech community has noticed this and there has been a steady stream of online platforms launching that allow you to do everything from talk to your pets remotely while you are at work to getting plush replicas of your furry friend made so they can live on forever.
One of areas where there has been a lot of activity is in connecting pet owners to a network of trusted people in their local community that can “pet-sit” for them when they are out of town. One such platform is Pet Home Stay which originally launched in 2012 as a free community site for a group of people at a local dog park. The platform founded by Bronwyn and Tom LeGrice relaunched last year as an official business to connect pet owners with a trusted network of pet sitters.
Recently Bronwyn stepped back from the day-to-day running of the business and Dave Bird joined the company as a cofounder and CTO.
The startup recently completed the NRMA Jumpstart program ran by Slingshot as a scale-up. Being part of the program allowed the company to build some very strong key partnerships, which was part of the relaunch strategy in commercialising the original platform.
“We were actively looking for large organisations that have engaged communities that we could talk to, that would be relevant to both parties” says LeGrice. “The NRMA Jumpstart Program stood out for us because of the values that we share. As a company, they are an extremely trusted brand and our business is fundamentally dependant on trust. They place a lot of emphasis on integrity and that’s really important for us as a business as well. So we felt like that even when we were applying to join the program, we had a lot of common ground and that we could really help them and they could really help us.”
To date the startup has raised $250,000 in seed funding and is currently going through the motions of raising its second seed round. The target is a number in the ‘high six figures’ of which LeGrice says they are in advanced talks about that investment.
The money will be used to further build out the platforms unique trust based system and develop the next generation version of the site including things like mobile apps.
“I think for us it’s going to be much more around continuing to build this as a brand across the whole of Australia,” says LeGrice.
“A lot of it is going to be based around continuing to build partnerships with key nation wide organisations that share our values. I think this is a really interesting space right now and it’s changing very rapidly. I think a lot more people like pet owners are becoming aware of these kinds of solutions, so there’s going to be some really rapid growth. A big thing for us is how do we maintain our focus on support and caring for our community whilst experiencing fast-growth.”
In 2016 this particular part of the “pet market” is going to become competitive with a number of businesses with this exact business model on Startup Daily’s radar that are preparing to launch. Although Pet Home Stay has a good name in the market and averages a 38% rebooking rate right now – they are competing with fellow Australian startup and perhaps the most well known brand in the space, MadPaws that raised $1.1 million in October last year.
Image: Bronwyn and Tom LeGrice. Source: Supplied.