When is a pet, more than a pet? If you’re going on holidays and you fear sending Scooby Doo to the kennels, that’s when you know.
HouseMyDog, a startup that came through NDRC’s LaunchPad programme in 2016, was founded by Timothy and James McElroy.
With plans for major expansion, HouseMyDog recently became the first business from Ireland to use crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to achieve its funding goals.
Initially seeking to raise £180,000 for a little more than 11 per cent of its company, it instead blew through the target in just a couple of days, with the total raised destined to increase in the coming weeks as it seeks to secure as much as £475,000.
HouseMyDog is planning to spend the raised funds on an expansion into European markets, doubling its team to 10 and launching an app for its users.
HouseMyDog, based at NDRC, is an online community where dog parents can connect with dog sitters to find a safe and loving real home for their dogs while they travel.
With HouseMyDog customers can choose from thousands of professional pet sitters and dog lovers who will mind dogs in their own home, providing one-on-one attention and leaving dog-owners to travel with peace of mind.
‘It’s often not just a pet, it’s a member of the family. So one-on-one care from our dog sitters is important’- James McElroy, co-founder of HouseMyDog
With more than 40,000 users, and more than 1,000 joining every week, HouseMyDog has so far seen 48,000 nights booked through its platform.
Dog sitters can sign up for a free profile, and enjoy the benefits of a nationwide marketing campaign. Sitters have complete control over their profile and service; setting their own pricing, managing their own schedule, and deciding the types and sizes of dogs that they will host.
HouseMyDog aims to become the leading online pet services marketplace in Europe and to provide dog owners with a convenient, trusted alternative to dog kennels.
“My brother and I always identified with the problem of housing our dog,” said James McElroy, co-founder of HouseMyDog.com, whose own King Charles Spaniel, Holly, was the original inspiration.
“Sadly Holly passed away not long ago, but we knew there was an appetite among dog owners,” he said.
“The pets’ industry is huge, it’s worth around $12bn annually,” said James. “Two years ago we began looking into disrupting it with technology.”
The duo saw what Uber was doing to the taxi business, and Airbnb was doing to the short-term letting market, and went about setting up HouseMyDog.
Through market research, they found that 85 per cent of dog-owners were unhappy with the options available to them when looking to house their dogs when going on holiday.
“I think a lot of it comes down to the ‘pet humanisation’ aspect of things,” said James. “It’s often not just a pet, it’s a member of the family. So one-on-one care from our dog sitters is important.
“The updates our sitters provide is a major help, too. Many owners comment on how their young children enjoy their holidays more when they get updates on their dogs.”
HouseMyDog currently operates in Ireland and the UK. In July 2017, HouseMyDog acquired its German competitor Schnuff und Co (schnuff-und-co.de) and will use the platform as a launch-pad into the German market.
Ultimately HouseMyDog’s mission is to become “your pet homepage” adding additional services, such as walking and daycare as well as pet food and insurance in the coming months. NDRC finds, builds and invests in digital companies and startup teams with the potential to grow internationally.
To date, NDRC has worked with over 226 companies, which have raised €152m in follow-on investment funding that now employ more than 800 people directly.