Entrepreneur and Investor Talks


Founder stories: Getting the marketplace flywheel going

DogVacay, UrbanSitter and Washio at Vator Splash LA 2014

Innovation series by Mitos Suson
May 28, 2015
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Ezra Roizen of Ackrell Capital moderated the panel discussing about "founder panel on scaling your startup and getting the marketplace flywheel going" at Vator Splash LA 2014. On the panel were Aaron Hirschhorn, Founder and CEO of DogVacay; Lynn Perkins, Founder and CEO of UrbanSitter; Jordan Metzner, Founder and CEO of Washio

We were particularly excited to have DogVacay's Hirschhorn on stage speaking at Splash as it was only two years prior that he presented as one of the finalists in the startup competition. Turned out - DogVacay won! Woof! Here's the video of Hirschhorn's winning pitch.

*Sorry for being late to publish this video!

Here are some highlights -

- How did you get the initial flywheel going?

UrbanSitter started very local, finding qualified sitters. DogVacay's Hirschhorn called about 800 to 900 dog sitters to get them into the program and interview them. Curation of both sides is essential to getting the quality of the experience right from the beginning. "You find good people first and it's a manual process in the beginning," said Hirschhorn.

- On building credibility and trust -

Hirschhorn says DogVacay has developed its own quality-check system, have strong insurance policies and 24/7 support. Perkins says in the beginning, their top sitters would be required to take CPR classes. Also, the site has reputation badges, such as "repeat user" badges, showing parents how often a sitter is used, a great indication of the quality of the sitter. They also have two-minute videos of the sitters. On the flipside, a sitter can also see information about the families seeking sitters. Washio's Metzner says the team does background checks on all the drivers and pre-qualification. 

- Abstract your company out and tell us what you'll be in the future

 Washio wants to be the nation's largest dry cleaners/laundry provider, ridding the country of retail chains and having all the wash delivered straight to homes. UrbanSitter wants to be the trusted source for parents who with children six months old to 12 years old. Services including babysiting to tutoring. DogVacay wants to be the pet wellness provider. Today it's providing boarding services, tomorrow it's about helping to keep pets healthy.

Splash LA 2015 is around the corner. We already have a great lineup. Check it out here. Register early for Super Early Bird tickets. And if you want to apply to present in the startup competition, apply here.

Related companies, investors and entrepreneurs

Description: An online service for parents and sitters to connect through people they know, UrbanSitter makes booking a trusted babysitter as easy as ...
Description: Name of the company
Description: is a community marketplace that addresses the $5B market for dog-boarding and pet-sitting. Instead of paying for a crow...
Ackrell Capital, LLC
Service provider
Description: Ackrell Capital is an investment bank founded by senior technology investment bankers and entrepreneurs. We are headquartered in San Fran...
Bio: Advisor-to and commenter-on emerging ventures
Bio: Third time entrepreneur. Co-founder of UrbanSitter. Previous start up experience at and Finance/dev...

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