LI marketing firm nets $2M venture capital investment

FamilyPet founders Jared Katz, left, and Andrew Pollack FamilyPet founders Jared Katz, left, and Andrew Pollack with rescued pets -- Tig, the cat, and Ashes, the dog on Oct. 3, 2014. The pet-focused Great Neck marketer has been purchased by a Seattle company, executives said Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014. Photo Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan

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FamilyPet, a pet-focused marketing firm in Great Neck, has received a $2 million venture capital investment amid a dry spell of funding for the Island.

The company, which runs a network of eight websites offering pet-related services and merchandise, received the VC funds in exchange for equity ownership for Chicago-based Hard 8 Venture Capital, the investment arm of financial trading firm Hard 8 Trading LLC, said Andrew Pollack, co-founder of FamilyPet.

FamilyPet will be using most of the investment to pay for television and radio advertising for its websites, particularly Coupaw.com, a daily deals portal for pet products, Pollack said. The company has also hired a social media director and plans to add another employee to its team of 10 this year.

Francis Wisniewski, a managing partner at Hard 8, said his firm places emphasis on the people behind the business when making investment decisions.

"We thought this team was really good," he said. "Their execution has been good so far."

Attracting venture capital has often been a sore spot for business and public officials on Long Island as they try to grow the local economy. In 2012, companies on the Island received $32 million in venture capital, a drop from $45 million in 2011, according to the MoneyTree Report, compiled by the National Venture Capital Association and PricewaterhouseCoopers, and other sources. For the first two quarters of 2013 -- the most recent available data -- Long Island received $14 million in VC money. Aside from Coupaw.com, FamilyPet's online alliance includes sites PetSitting.com, which helps connect pet owners with pet sitters, and PetWasteRemovals.com, which puts pet owners in contact with pet waste collectors.

FamilyPet began in 2009 after Pollack and his business partner, Jared Katz, revamped their marketing company to focus entirely on the pets business. The company was previously headquartered in Manhattan, but moved to Great Neck about two years ago due to rising rents, Pollack said.

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