As successful sharing marketplaces like Airbnb and Lyft change the face of the hotel and transportation industries, attracting millions of dollars in VC funding in the process, hyperlocal entrepreneurs have started setting their sights on something new to disrupt: the pet boarding industry. Americans spent more than $55 billion on their pets in 2013, and a number of hyperlocal startups are looking to capture that puppy fever by creating local marketplaces where pet owners are matched up with people who are willing to take care of their pups while they’re out of town.
Here are five hyperlocal pet sitting marketplaces getting in on the action.
1. DogVacay: Make extra money by “hosting” people’s pets.
Frequently compared to Airbnb, DogVacay is a dog-boarding marketplace that pairs pet owners with sitters who are willing to host animals in their own homes. Pet sitters must go through a five-step approval process to start accepting reservations, and DogVacay provides insurance for all animals in case any emergency veterinary visits are needed. DogVacay has more than 10,000 “vetted” dog sitters. Dog owners who make reservations through DogVacay can pay through the company’s online platform. Hosts set their own rates, which start at $25 per night, and DogVacay does charge a 15% service fee based on the total amount a host charges.
2. Rover: Find available dog sitters nearby.
Rover matches pet owners with sitters who can care for their animals while they’re out of town. Pet owners browse Rover’s marketplace looking for sitters in their areas, and they can meet those sitters at Rover-approved “meet and greets” before dropping their pets off for boarding services. The marketplace offers advertising and marketing tools to help people launch their own “dog-sitting businesses,” with integrated scheduling tools and online payments. Rover provides insurance for every pet booked for services through its platform, with emergency bills covered up to $25,000 per claim. Although sitters can create a profile for free, Rover charges a 15% service fee for every transaction.
3. Spotwag: Leverage Facebook connections to find a trustworthy pet sitter.
Pet owners who feel uncomfortable with the idea of leaving their dogs with strangers can use Spotwag to find trustworthy sitters who they already know. The company leverages Facebook to help its users find friends who are available and willing to watch their animals while they’re away. Sitters benefit by getting to hang out with dogs temporarily, without the burden of permanent ownership. Rather than setting strict rates or nightly minimums, Spotwag lets its users decide how they should be compensated; payments can come in the form of cash, trades, or just a hearty “thank you.”
4. Bibulu: Earn cash by hosting pets at home.
Founded in Barcelona in 2012, Bibulu offers a “cage free” alternatives to kennels. Pet owners can search for hosts in their hometowns, and they can review profiles with photos and reviews when deciding which hosts to choose. Reservations and payments are handled through Bibulu’s online platform. People looking to earn extra money can become Bibulu hosts after undergoing personal interviews. Some host profiles also have “badges” that note whether the host has undergone bank detail checks, reference checks, or Facebook verification. Bibulu covers the cost of veterinary care and emergency support, and offers a money-back guarantee to pet owners. Bibulu charges a “small service fee” on all transactions.
5. Holidog: Find a host family for your dog or cat.
Holidog expands beyond basic dog boarding, with pet visiting and dog walking services as well. Users search Holidog’s system for hosts in their zip codes who are available on selected dates, and they browse through the available profiles until the perfect sitter pops up. Holidog offers an online chat feature where pet owners and sitters can get to know each other. When it comes time to make a reservation, owners enter their credit card information and make a down payment through the site to secure the booking. Prices for Holidog’s matching services are determined by Holidog, and a service fee is charged to pet owners at the time of the booking.
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.