Housemydog, an Irish start-up that provides an online service to connect pet owners with trusted dog lovers, has kicked off a crowdfunding campaign to raise £180,000 (€196,372) to help it develop a mobile app and expand in Europe.
The company, which describes itself as an 'Airbnb for dogs', was formed by brothers James and Timothy McElroy in 2013. An alternative to traditional kennels, Housemydog promises 'a simple, cage-free and stress-free environment experience for safely boarding dogs in real homes at affordable rates'.
The company, which already operates in Ireland, Britain and Germany, has more than 40,000 users with over 48,000 nights booked, resulting in £400,000 ($528.556 - €440.592) in marketplace transactions.
Timothy McElroy said more than 1,000 new users are joining HouseMyDog each week. Dog lovers can expect to earn between €10-€30 ($12 - $36) a night for minding a pet while its owners are away, although Mr McElroy said some users were earning as much as €1.000 ($1200) per month, with one indidivual having clocked up total earnings of £30,000 ($39.641 - €33.044).
HouseMyDog, which is an Enterprise Ireland High Potential Start-Up (HPSU) client, takes a 21.5 per cent commission on each transaction.
Despite more than £10 billion ($13 billion - €11 billion) being spent annually on pet services in the US and UK alone, the company’s research shows that over 85 per cent of dog owners refuse to use paid boarding solutions and are actively seeking alternatives due to caged environments, high costs and lack of trust.
Mr McElroy said the aim is to turn HouseMyDog into Europe’s largest pet services marketplace, operating in over twenty cities in six countries.
“We’ve had some nice initial success in Ireland and also in the UK where we are now in some markets. In addition we were lucky enough to acquire a German competitor earlier this year and given how well we have been doing in all the markets we are currently in, we decided to expand a little faster than originally intended and to create a dedicated app,” he said.
Just 24 hours into the campaign, the two businessmen have raised £128,450 ($169.732 - €141.485) from 89 investors, putting them over 70 per cent of the way to their target.
The crowdfunding campaign, which is running on CrowdCube, got under way on Thursday and runs for a month.