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DogVacay looks to grab part of $56-billion American pet spend with OMERS investment

dog on couch OMERS Ventures, the venture capital arm of the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System pension fund, has led a $25 million Series B1 round of investment in DogVacay, a Santa Monica-based platform for hooking travelling dog owners up with boarders willing to babysit their hounds on a short-term basis.

Having already invested in Hootsuite, Wattpad, Desire2Learn and Shopify, as well as many of Canada’s brightest tech companies, DogVacay is OMERS Ventures’ first U.S. investment.

“DogVacay is the leader in a marketplace with huge potential. Their management team has a tremendous focus on dog care and well­being, while also growing a large and successful business,” said Kent Thexton, Managing Director, OMERS Ventures. “We know and like the marketplace sector and our co­investors, and we feel very positive about partnering with them and DogVacay’s strong management team.”

Americans spent $55.7 billion on their pets in 2013, or, as Time magazine points out for context, approximately $10 billion more than the German defense budget.

Other investors participating in the round included GVS Capital, in addition to existing investors Science Inc., First Round Capital, Benchmark, Foundation Capital and DAG Ventures. The company was founded in 2012.

“OMERS brings an international perspective that will help us as we further expand in North America and eventually beyond,” said DogVacay CEO Aaron Hirschhorn. “They also bring strong operational expertise that will be an advantage as we continue to scale. Just as importantly, we feel the OMERS team is a perfect cultural fit for our business.”

DogVacay initially raised $7 million in 2012 from Andreessen Horowitz and Benchmark.

Described as “Airbnb for dogs”, DogVacay allows dog owners in over 3,000 cities to engage one of 20,000 dog-sitters in the platform’s network.

Aside from providing a temporary home with a human touch, as opposed to boarding in a kennel, DogVacay’s vetted boarders typically charge approximately half of what you’d pay a kennel. And DogVacay takes a 15% cut of that transaction.

“It’s an $11 billion pet services market that’s completely fragmented,” Hirschhorn told CNBC in 2012. “Nobody’s even got a couple points of market share. It’s wide open and we’re really disrupting the space across all the services.”

DogVacay has now raised $47 million in venture capital.

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