Chicago-based Pondera Holdings is leading a $31 million recapitalization of AutoPets and Litterbox.com. The investment is intended to accelerate the company's growth, as well as provide a liquidity event to the founders of the business.
Based in Auburn Hills, Michigan, AutoPets is the maker of the Litter-Robot, the highest-rated self-cleaning cat litter box on the market. The recently launched Litterbox.com is a destination for cat owners. Pondera is an operationally-focused holding company that provides growth equity capital to private, entrepreneurial businesses.
AutoPets, founded in 1999 by Brad Baxter and his father, Jim, has grown from $7 million in 2015 revenue to an estimated $40 million in 2019. In 2015, Brad Baxter recruited Jacob Zuppke to the team as vice president to help rebrand AutoPets and launch the new Litter-Robot envisioned by Baxter. Alongside the investment, Zuppke has been promoted to executive vice president and COO, and is now a shareholder and member of the AutoPets board. Baxter remains CEO, a significant shareholder and a member of the AutoPets board.
"Over the past five years, AutoPets has bootstrapped the company through significant revenue growth, debt-free. Looking ahead, we recognized that bringing on a strategic financial partner could help further accelerate our progress," Zuppke said in a statement.
AutoPets has entered into a long-term agreement to lease an 8-acre, 50,000-square-foot building in Auburn Hills to develop its corporate campus, which will accommodate the growing AutoPets team and product development initiatives. In parallel, AutoPets is doubling its Juneau, Wisconsin manufacturing and shipping facility from 33,000 square feet to 63,000 square feet.
Not only will the company launch a new robot product line in 2020, it also recently launched Litterbox.com, the all-new destination for cat parents offering more than 120 unique, high-quality cat products, as well as a new line of modern cat furniture.
Pondera Holdings currently has several portfolio investments. Past investments include Dollar Shave Club and Dash Financial.