Founder stories: Getting the marketplace flywheel going

Mitos Suson · May 28, 2015 · Short URL:

DogVacay, UrbanSitter and Washio at Vator Splash LA 2014

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.

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Mitos Suson

I am currently affiliated with Vator. I co-produce the Vator Events and enjoy the challenge. I am learning and growing a lot, being involved with Vator and I love it!

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Name of the company

Ackrell Capital, LLC

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Joined Vator on

Ackrell Capital is an investment bank founded by senior technology investment bankers and entrepreneurs. We are headquartered in San Francisco, and have a network of partners throughout the U.S. and in key international markets. Our bankers provide each of our clients with:


As a registered broker/dealer and a member of FINRA, we offer a broad range of financial advisory and capital raising services.



Joined Vator on

An online service for parents and sitters to connect through people they know, UrbanSitter makes booking a trusted babysitter as easy as booking dinner reservations.  The site enables parents to search, book and review trusted sitters within minutes.

Headquartered in San Francisco, UrbanSitter was founded by a group of Internet veterans who wanted to use technology to power a faster, more personal babysitting service. For more information or to sign up, visit


Joined Vator on is a community marketplace that addresses the $5B market for dog-boarding and pet-sitting. Instead of paying for a crowded and overpriced kennel, our users book with experienced hosts who watch dogs in their own homes. In two months since launch the we have gained national coverage with thousands of approved hosts. 

We provide multiple layers of quality control, a comprehensive insurance policy, emergency support, photo updates, and other pet services like daycare and walking. 

We were founded in 2011 by a husband and wife team who boarded over 100 dogs in their home to make extra money while saving for their weddin. We are now venture capital funded by First Round Capital, Science, and several angels. 


Lynn Perkins

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Third time entrepreneur. Co-founder of UrbanSitter. Previous start up experience at and Finance/development experience at Joie de Vivre Hosp, LaSalle Partners and Gap Inc.

Aaron Hirschhorn

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Ezra Roizen

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Advisor-to and commenter-on emerging ventures