Earlier this week, GoFetch announced our newest product offering: online dog boarding (I encourage you to check it out at GoFetch.ca). In sum, GoFetch is the first Canadian owned and headquartered, online marketplace that links dog owners with loving dog care providers who open up their home as an alternative to a caged kennel (or bugging your friends!).
At first glance, the dog-owning community may not think a web site that allows owners to find trusted sitters would be a prime candidate for venture capital. However, according to Crunchbase, there was approximately $50 million invested into pet-sitting marketplaces last year alone, including our Angel Round in the spring.
Below, I make an effort of highlighting some key points as to why a marketplace like GoFetch is experiencing such healthy (and early!) growth:
- True Network Effect
The graphs below represent how successful network effects and marketplaces take time to grow and mature. It’s also important to note that both Uber and Airbnb have a combined $16 billion in total equity funding, and are in the top five most valuable private companies in the world.
As the GoFetch marketplace evolves, so will the reputation of the service providers. And reputation is one of the most important factors in building a trusted, and successful online platform – especially in the pet business!
The idea that dog owners will choose only the best service providers, will create a desire for service providers to keep a constant focus on providing the best care and reputation possible.
2. Simple and Predictable Business Model
In order for GoFetch to provide world-class technology, customer support, service provider vetting, and much much more, we take a 15% service fee on all bookings on our platform. With dog care providers on the platform taking home 85% of earnings, it creates financial opportunity out of nowhere!
3. Total Addressable Market
A standard part of nearly every investor pitch is the total addressable market (TAM). The market for GoFetch is not as big as the market for Theranos (healthcare), but the pet care business is much bigger than you think. Depending on the source, the average dog owner spends $200-$300 per year on boarding and various studies target the market for dog boarding at around $5 billion. Paul Graham, who wrote one of the first checks for Airbnb, says it best:
The potential of our market is truly unknown, because determining the size of a market depends on the stage of the industry. More mature industries are well sourced and studied. Companies in emerging industries operate in a market that exists and can be measured by third parties but is far from being mature. Strong investor dollars flowing to the industry is a key indicator of a developing market.
Marketplaces like GoFetch truly expand the market and grow the industry by creating a new offering for consumers. The process of booking a kennel or buggy a friend to watch your dog over multiple nights is anything but seamless. The constant growth of highly-qualified, Canadian service providers we are already experiencing is a major draw for dog owners in the markets we are in. More growth and traffic to the platform in an obvious prediction.
5. Highly Fragmented Category
GoFetch is not only creating a platform of trusted, qualified dog care providers, it is creating a new profession – similar to the uprise of Hosts on Airbnb or Drivers on Uber. This leads to a fragmented selection of service providers, giving dog owners wide selection of care options on the marketplace.
6. Technology as a Tool
My co-founder and I have had the opportunity to tour many so-called ‘high-end’ dog kennels, and while they do offer cameras and daily photos, GoFetch actually has instant messaging built into our apps (along with a variety of other features that catalyze a peace of mind on the platform). Constant, personalized updates are possible with the technology our team has built, not to mention other features such as reviews, GPS, and ID Verification.
7. World Class Experience
GoFetch has seen thousands or loving dog care providers apply this week that are interested in providing personal, overnight care for dogs. This does not happen without a world class online experience. The flow of both applying to booking on GoFetch is incredibly seamless. Think of booking a hotel on Expedia – now you can have just as easily discover trusted and vetted dog sitters. The below case study from Travelocity will give you a good idea of what successful online marketplaces aim to accomplish:
8. Everyone Wins
Not only does GoFetch present the opportunity for service providers to make money, our early comparisons show that the average listing on GoFetch is less expensive than the average cost of going to a kennel.
9. Frequent Consumer Behavior
Depending where you look, you’ll probably see that North American dog owners use a kennel three times a year and usually at the time of popular travel seasons. With the platform GoFetch has created, it leaves room for new offerings such as Daycare, Walking, Transport, and more!
GoFetch is at the intersection of two main trends that have a very positive impact on our service: Pet Ownership & Travel. The humanization of pets is a real driver for business. More people in North America are becoming dog owners everyday. In addition, the Travel category and the tech innovation that it has seen in the past few years is growing rapidly. The impact these two trends have on the business are incredibly positive for the current and future growth of the GoFetch platform.
From our perspective, GoFetch is a clear winner – not only in making the lives of dog parents easier, but in creating a sustainable and successful online business.
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