This year’s competition was pretty steep, but the two startups that beat out the rest happened to be two of my favorites. Allowancetree.com won the People’s Choice award (voting done via Twitter), while DogVacay.com won the judges' votes.
AllowanceTree.com is a personal finance site for kids and their parents, allowing parents to automate allowance payments while monitoring their kids’ purchases. Kids, meanwhile, have a range of nifty options available to them to learn about money management. They can choose to set aside part of their allowance to go into savings, invest, or donate to charity. They can also request a loan from their parents and negotiate an interest rate, and they can get a “credit score.”
The platform is wholly customizable to each family’s needs, so parents can automate the payments while also increasing the value for things like good grades or more effectively completed chores. For example, parents can add $1.50 to Junior’s allowance when he does the dishes well, or they can add $3.00 when he does the job really, really well (I would argue there’s no excellent way to clean dishes. No points for food left on the plate.). Conversely, parents can dock allowance for shoddy jobs.
But as far as the judges were concerned, the belle of the ball tonight was DogVacay.com. Like an AirBnB for dogs, dog owners who need to skip town for a couple of days can browse hosts on DogVacay.com to find the ideal home away from home for their pets.
The site provides a comprehensive overview of each host, including what type of home they have, how large their outdoor area is, whether they can provide 24/7 supervision, whether they have other pets, and so on. Nightly rates range from $15 to $65, but the average is under $30 a night.
Thus, hosts make extra cash while dog owners save money on kennels and have the peace of mind of knowing that their dogs aren’t cooped up in cages while they’re away.
Hosts are more or less screened in a process that includes an initial application, a phone interview, reference checks, and more. DogVacay.com offers hosts instructional videos to watch and encourages dog owners and hosts to set up a preliminary meeting in advance to make sure they’re a good match.
And while dog owners are away on vacation, they can get daily photo updates on their dogs via their cell phones or email.
Congrats to both of our Vator Splash LA winners!