The story of FetchDog begins with a small group of pet owners who saw a need for an online hub for people like them to buy merchandise, read about trends, and socialize. And the founders of the Portland, ME-based firm, besides their affinity for pets, are also what one investor called a “dream team” of business veterans with experience in the veterinary products, direct marketing, e-commerce, and entertainment industries. That puts some bite behind the bark of the firm’s business.
David Shaw, a founder and chairman of FetchDog, told me that the idea for the company grew out of a discussion he had with fellow founder William End a couple of years back. Shaw, indeed, is the founder and former CEO of Idexx Laboratories (NASDAQ:IDXX), a Maine-based provider of veterinary diagnostics and other products. End was the longtime CEO of apparel catalogue company Land’s End, among his other top executive posts at companies like L.L. Bean. The two of them discussed the lack of online offerings for dog owners and sniffed an opportunity.
“There really has been no one authoritative and helpful source for advice and assistance, community, great content, and shopping for dog owners,” says Shaw. Even though there are an estimated 60 million dogs in the U.S. there was nothing for the vast market of pet owners on par with what the TheKnot.com offers for people planning weddings or iVillage.com does for moms. (Shaw, despite his role at FetchDog, is perhaps known mostly in life sciences circles as a partner at venture firm Venrock and as a director at biotech companies such as Cambridge, MA-based Ironwood Pharmaceuticals.)
FetchDog launched its website and mail catalogue of dog supplies in November 2007, and this month the firm attracted venture investors in a $4 million round of financing. Shaw says that the startup is poised to take a greater chunk of the estimated $40 billion U.S. market for pet supplies. Yet the company, avoiding a direct battle with pet retail giants PETCO and PetSmart, is specializing in some of the hard-to-find and quality branded dog supplies that may otherwise only be found at pet boutiques.
Though FetchDog is a small firm of fewer than 20 employees, the startup benefits from some big star power. … Next Page »
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