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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

December 1, 2011 at 3:53 PM

Dog boarding venture Rover.com bounds onto startup scene

After his late lab Ruby Tuesday had a rough stay at a kennel, Seattle venture capitalist Greg Gottesman thought there had to be a better option.

So he cooked up a venture called A Place For Rover that would serve as a marketplace for people offering to take care of dogs in their homes.

“It turns out that dog-boarding, pet-sitting is a $6 billion to $8 billion business with massive customer dissatisfaction,” Gottesman said.

rover.jpg

The concept won first place at a Startup Weekend event last summer, and Gottesman assembled a team and launched the company inside the offices of Madrona Venture Group where he’s a managing director.

Gottesman also lined up Aaron Easterly, a former general manager of Microsoft’s advertising group, to serve as chief executive officer.

After testing, the service launched publicly Wednesday as Rover.com. It has about 300 listings by people willing to board dogs in their homes for prices ranging from $15 to $60 per night.

Rover takes a 15 percent commission on boarding arrangements made through the site.

Madrona invested about $250,000 in the venture, which now has about seven employees. The model is being tuned in Seattle before the next phase, which will add new pet services and expand to other cities.

But first the pet-loving Rover team is going to have to find a real office outside of the incubation space at Madrona.

“We don’t allow dogs in the office,” Gottesman said. “They’ll have to find a dog-friendly spot.”

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