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mar 14, 2017
Innovation and technology

Brazilian startups turn pet-sitting into “pet-sharing”

For all those animal lovers out there, these Brazilian entrepreneurs have decided to put you to work. Through the new app “DogHero”, pet owners can find sitters for their animal friends. Think of it as a sort of “Airbnb" for pets. 

In fact, Brazil is one of the world’s biggest markets for spending on pets. According to the pet care association Abinpet, Brazil boasts $8.16 billion in pet spending. The pet market includes everything from veterinary care to grooming, and now, pet-sitting as well. 

For Brazil’s rising middle class who wants only the best for its pets, but doesn’t want to give up their weekend getaways, DogHero provides the most affordable pet-sitting option. 

DogHero’s Brazilian co-founders Fernando Gadotti and Eduardo Baer met during their MBA at Stanford, and launched the app upon returning to their home country. For Baer, having a safe place to leave his dog while away on vacation was essential to getting a pet in the first place. And before DogHero, many people didn’t know where to leave their pets.

“DogHero is responding to a market demand that exists due to a lack of specialized services,” said Baer in an interview with the Brazilian press. “In the next three years, our platform plans to offer five hosts within a 2 km radius.”

As of yet, the app has already registered over 100,000 pets and 5,000 hosts in 400 cities across the country. The company projects to reach 20,000 hosts and over 2.5 million dogs in the next two years. Of course, that remains only a sliver of the 35.8 million dogs in Brazil. While cats only represent 5% of the pets registered, DogHero does hope to expand its services to other animals.

So how does DogHero work? Like apartment-sharing, you make either a “host” or a “guest” profile. Hosts, or “heroes”, fill out a questionnaire that is then analyzed by a member of the DogHero team before they pet-sit for the first time. The “hero" decides on the fee to be charged, and the app keeps 25%. The pet owners, on their end, evaluate the hosts. DogHero also provides a $1,600 veterinary guarantee for any medical emergencies.

The veterinarian Sandra Moura, based in São Paulo, was one of the first to sign on to the app as a “hero”. Moura charges about $21/day. Since signing up with DogHero, Moura has hosted over 50 dogs and has made pet-sitting her main source of professional income.

DogHero isn’t the only Brazilian app specializing in “pet-sharing”. Instead of “heroes”, Pet Anjo (Angel Pet) signs up “angels” to watch over pets. But the idea remains the same. However, Pet Anjo also offers animal care courses, such as for dog-walking or pet-sitting, which cost about $35. Dog owners receive videos and photos of their pets throughout their stay with the host. The suggested cost for an “angel" pet-sitter is between $8 and $38 per day, and Pet Anjo keeps 30% of the profits.

As Latin American's largest city, São Paulo boasts the second largest population of pet dogs in the world only after the U.S., which nearly doubles Brazil’s number. But fear not, DogHero’s founders already have U.S. branches, Rover.com and Dogvacay, which have between the two raised over $100 million in financing.