David Martín and Álvaro Jiménez, two Madrileños born in 1984, knew that they wanted to create content for a specific community – something that its users would be passionate about. They debated focusing on fitness, lifestyle or pets. Ultimately they went with the last option, creating the start-up Pet Coach in 2014. Just three years later, their company has been bought by the pet supply retailer PetCo for at least $10 million.
The website is simple yet innovative. It provides health advice for pets almost in real time. Since its founding, there have been over 300,000 health and wellness questions asked, which were answered by vets and other industry professionals, and by around 350,000 active users.
“You usually get questions about dogs and cats of course, but we have also answered queries about penguins and iguanas. It’s the quality that makes the difference. We provide quality information,” says Martín, the company CEO. “We wanted to solve the existing problem of a glut of unverified information. There is a lot about pets out there, but little of it is trustworthy.”
You usually get questions about dogs and cats, but we have also answered queries about penguins and iguanas David Martín, PetCoach CEO
Content is provided in English, although there are no geographical limits for users. Around 70% of traffic comes from the United States. PetCoach is available via a website, but also as an application for iPhone and Android smartphones. With a staff of 12, the company has managed to turn a profit and make a five-fold return for investors. These include funds, incubators and several private investors such as Carlos Gómez, co-founder of Nexo Club and head of Waze for Europe, or Eneko Knörr, a serial entrepreneur.
The business model is simple. Reading and posting questions is free, but getting a reply back in under 30 minutes can cost around $4.99. It is also possible to pay $19.99 for a chat session in real time. Additional funding comes from companies offering pet insurance as an added service.
The founders refused to reveal the purchase amount, but everything indicates that it is upwards of $10 million, considering that profits are at least five times above investment, and that the latest round of funding raised $2 million.
Born in New York
PetCoach has grown at lightning speed, which is inherent to start-ups, but it also moved quickly to correct errors, escalate and change headquarters as often as required.
The company started out in New York, where the founders joined a pilot program for foreign start-ups. From there they jumped to Austin, Texas, one of the country’s top tech centers, and joined the business accelerator DreamIt Ventures. They placed an advertisement in Domestika, the largest design community in Spanish, to find the employee they were missing. That is how they found Fernando Pascua, who joined their team.
Now, the entire team will move in with Petco, whose headquarters are located in San Diego, California. They will be joining Brock Weatherup, creator of Pet360 and an angel investor in PetCoach who now works for Petco after selling his e-commerce company.
English version by Susana Urra.