This Founder Turned Doggy Daycare Into a $300 Million Business
This Rover.com founder’s zeal for pooches solved a problem people with pets have long shared: Kennels are just sad. This post originally appeared on Inc.com.
Editor’s Note: Inc.‘s 12th annual 30 Under 30 list features the young founders taking on some of the world’s biggest challenges. Here, meet Rover.com.
Plenty of would-be entrepreneurs participate in Startup Weekends–the 54-hour startup marathons that are now held in cities across 150 countries. More than 193,000, according to the event’s website. But few can say they’ve actually managed to start a real company afterward–particularly one that’s attracted 85,000 members in 10,000 U.S. cities and made $100 million in bookings last year alone.
That’s the story behind the on-demand pet-sitting site Rover.com, which Philip Kimmey co-founded over the summer of 2011, after his junior year at Washington University in St. Louis. The computer science major opted to try his hand at starting up, rather than get an internship like most of his classmates.
And, boy, is he glad. The Seattle-based company has today raised $91.5 million in venture funding and ended 2016 with 181 employees. It’s doubled its revenue in each of the past three years, and is poised to do it again this year, according to the company, which declined to cite specific revenue numbers. The company, which acquired competitor DogVacay last month in an all-stock deal, was valued at nearly $300 million after a Series E round of fundraising this past September.
“There’s always a new set of challenges that comes with this,” says Kimmey, now 27. “Rover does continue to provide a new sense of experiences every day. And to be honest, there’s like 40 dogs in the office every day. It really is kind of ideal.”
Baby (Puppy) Steps
That success didn’t always seem fated. At the Startup Weekend event, when veteran venture capitalist Greg Gottesman told the story of his dog Ruby–a yellow Lab who had gone to a kennel and returned with kennel cough–Kimmey thought it was “heartbreaking.” He had no reason, however, to think it would turn into an actual business.
Gottesman, a partner at Madrona Venture Group, had different ideas. Impressed by Kimmey’s performance, Gottesman called the budding engineer that following Monday asking if he wanted to spend the rest of the summer working on the project in a corner at the Madrona offices. “Had Phil Kimmey had a full-time job that summer, Rover.com would not exist,” Gottesman, 47, insists. “And millions of dogs would be the poorer for it.”
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