Former Smart50 winner Pet Circle raises $125 million, becomes latest Aussie unicorn

Pet-Circle-Michael-Frizell

Pet Circle co-founder and chief executive Mike Frizell. Source: supplied.

E-commerce store for pet supplies Pet Circle has raised $125 million in Series C funding, becoming the latest Aussie unicorn valued at more than $1 billion.

Founded in 2011 as an online store for pet food, Pet Circle has evolved to include subscriptions, VetChat and even pet telehealth services.

The round was led by US firm Prysm Capital along with Sydney-based TDM Growth Partners.

UK investor Baillie Gifford also contributed, along with Aussie VC and existing backer AirTree Ventures.

In 2014, Pet Circle came out on top in the SmartCompany Smart50 Awards, after banking $12 million in revenue and recording 330% growth over three years.

At the time, co-founder Mike Frizell told SmartCompany he came up with idea after seeing his parents buy smaller bags of dog food to avoid having to lug the heavier bags home.

Originally called Paws For Life, the business made $1 million in revenue in its first year of operation.

“Proving the model was the first challenge,” he said.

“We needed to create a smart logistics chain that was profitable.”

Things have only improved since then. While no recent revenue figures have been provided, the business has seen strong growth over the past 18 months, as the COVID-19 lockdowns led to a boom in pet ownership.

Pet Circle has seen a 50% uptick in sales of speciality puppy and kitten food, with pet owners spending an average of $1000 per year on their furry family members.

In April this year, Pet Circle was named in Power Retail’s list of the top 100 online retailers.

The latest funding will fuel accelerated growth, allowing the team to further develop the software platform and expand Pet Circle’s warehouse footprint, fleet of vehicles and product range.

“We are on a mission to reinvent the experience of pet ownership,” Frizell said in a statement.

Craig Blair, co-founder and partner at AirTree, called the Pet Circle founding team “quiet achievers” of the Aussie startup scene.

“The role pets play in our lives can’t be understated,” Blair added.

“As pet owners now look for the same level of variety and quality of products as they do for themselves, Pet Circle is in the best position to meet these expectations.”

Tune in to our SmartCompany Smart50 Awards virtual event on Wednesday at 4pm to find out who topped this year’s list of the fastest-growing Aussie businesses.

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