After three years of tapping into the passion of dog (Dogster) and cat (Catster) lovers, Dogster the company is ready to expand to all pets and even non-pet categories. The 10-person company is profitable, and expects to generate $1 million in revenue this year, and just inked a $1 million Series A capital infusion from a dozen angel investors, including Michael Parekh, Joshua Schachter, Brad Feld and Jeff Clavier, to build out new areas. “The investment allows us to test out how big Dogster and Catster can become, and to invest in more pet properties, such as horses, fish, birds, reptiles—all kinds of critters,” Ted Rheingold, CEO of Dogster, told me. "We feel confident with our foundation and rounding out our pet offerings. We can take advantage of our head start and then start with non-pet topics." He was not forthcoming on what non-pet "passions" the company would pursue, but said the dating is not one of them.
Dogster plans to use the cash initially to fund sales and marketing. “We never had a dollar to spend on marketing. We have been living by word-of-mouth,” Rheingold said. Dogster currently has about 250,000 registered users across its two sites, consisting of 80 percent women between the ages of 20 and 40. "We feel we have cracked the nut on how mature people like to share what they are passionate about in a safe, friendly environment,” Rheingold said. He is projecting 1.2 million members by 2007. “We don’t look at getting the most members. We want to have members that advertisers like and who reinforce the community. We want ‘lifers,’ people who log in at least once a quarter."
In the U.S., 63 percent of households have a dog or cat, totaling more than 160 million pets. That's a lot of room for Dogster and others who want to cater to pet lover communities to grow. The pet industry is pegged at $36 billion, but Dogster also thinks that its demographics can draw non-pet ads. Current advertisers include Disney, Target, PetSmart, Clorox/FreshStep, Gap/Old Navy, Warner Brothers, Nintendo and VPI Pet Insurance.