Online pet care marketplace Mad Paws has secured $5 million in Series A funding, with ‘super-fast, sustainable growth’ over the past year cited by CEO Alexis Soulopoulos as a key reason why his ‘Airbnb for pets’ is in demand amongst investors.
Launched in November 2014 by Soulopoulos and his co-founders Jan Pacas, Rolf Weber, Justus Hammer and Bjorn Behrendt, Mad Paws enables pet owners across Australia to book a local, vetted and insured pet sitter from a pool of 15,000 candidates. To date, 300,000 pets have been registered on the platform.
Mad Paws’ Series A round saw it onboard Qantas, Microequities Venture Capital, Scale Up Media Fund and Airtasker CEO Tim Fung as new investors, with a repeat investment made by Macdoch Ventures. Meanwhile, Fung has also signed up to join the company board.
Soulopoulos told Dynamic Businesses that the time was right for Mad Paws to raise Series A funding due to a tripling in business over the past year and a self-imposed directive to “aim for nothing less than our current growth trajectory in the future.”
“The Series A funding will support this objective by enabling us to not only appoint additional customer and pet sitter support staff but enhance our technology,” he said. “In turn, this will ensure the best possible service for pets and their owners. Plus, we’re confident that these investments will mean we continue to achieve the sustainable and fast business growth our investors want to see.
Soulopoulos, who is also a co-founder of Australia’s first sharing economy accelerator The Sharing Hub, said demand to invest in Mad Paws’ Series A round was “very high”, with the reasons being threefold.
“Firstly, Mad Paws has experienced super-fast, sustainable growth and our unit economics are looking very healthy,” he said. “Secondly, the $12 billion pet industry in Australia is massive and we are the clear market leader in the pet services category. Thirdly, our team is a strong, hard-working bunch with a real passion to make pet ownership easier for all Australian pet owners.”
Asked to account for Mad Paws fast growth, Soulopoulos attributed it to a “laser focus” on the company’ pet owners and sitters, including a thorough vetting process for the latter. He added, “Our community is loyal, passionate and rapidly spreading the word about our platform, and by being close to our users, we’re able to build technology that serves their needs”.
Due to demand for Mad Paws’ Series A, Soulopoulos said he and his team were able to partner with investors who not only shared their vision for the company but could add value to it.
“Qantas, for example, is a perfect strategic fit,” he said. “Qantas takes care of those who travel, while Mad Paws looks after their four-legged friends who stay at home. We are extremely excited to be working with this iconic Australian brand, and the opportunity for our users to earn Qantas Points with each pet stay booking is a great added bonus.
“Microequities Venture Capital is also a great fit – the experience of the partners as investors in the Australian startup space is unprecedented and their laser focus on the right metrics such as how life time values and acquisition cost stack up is very much aligned with our strategy.
Commenting on Fung’s appointment to Mad Paws board, Soulopoulos said the serial entrepreneur had been “informally advising” his company since it launched.
“I value Tim’s views tremendously,” Soulopoulos said. “He is, in my view one of Australia’s best startup leaders with specialised expertise in marketplaces from his experiences with Airtasker. Marketplaces such as Airtasker, Mad Paws, Spacer or CarNextDoor face many similar challenges and opportunities and so it’s very valuable for all us to exchange insights!”
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