Calgary-based Vetsie has closed a $285,000 pre-seed round of funding as the startup gears up for the public launch of its communications platform for veterinarians.
The round was led by First Fund VC, a Vancouver-based venture firm, with participation from Beuvray Ventures and Marc Bombenon of SureCall. Vetsie declined to disclose other contributors to the round, including other angel investors.
“With pet adoption spiking during COVID-19, and Vetsie already being in beta pilot tests with several vet clinics, this is a great opportunity for us to get involved early.”
The round comes as Vetsie gears up for the public launch of its virtual vet care platform. The company’s offering consists of a software platform targeted toward both veterinarians and a mobile app for pet owners, allowing both parties to easily communicate and treat their pets.
For vets, these tools include a monetized virtual care messaging tool, live chat with paid instant messages, an integrated payments solution, and custom scheduling. Vets can also use the platform to type up and export medical notes, touch base with clients through a care portal, and set up virtual teams.
Alex Chieng, CEO and co-founder of Vetsie, told BetaKit the overarching goal is to give pet owners greater peace of mind by opening up accessibility to vet professionals. Founded last year by Chieng and veterinarian Steve Boyer, Vetsie was born out of Chieng’s own struggles as a pet owner in communicating with his veterinarian.
Chieng noted that the pandemic was a major contributor to this problem. With pet ownership increasing as Canadians sought companionship during isolation, and public health restrictions closing many vet clinics in Canada, Chieng said the supply of vet care was simply not meeting the new demand.
“That led me to this idea [that] we bank, we shop, we socialize online — why isn’t there a way that you can talk with vets, especially with your primary vet?” Chieng told BetaKit.
The CEO explained that most vet communications are done in person, over the phone, or with online scheduling tools similar to Calendly. After spending some time conducting market research on the problem at hand, as well as virtual care solutions, Chieng and his team developed Vetsie.
Vetsie launched in beta in Alberta and British Columbia in November, which helped Vetsie find product-market fit. Chieng now plans to launch the platform across Canada in mid-July.
“The great thing about this is that we can scale it anywhere, so [the platform] will be available throughout Canada and in certain states in the US,” Chieng said.
The proceeds from the round will be used to help spread the word about Vetsie across Canada as well as in California. Vetsie also plans to add new members to its currently five-person team. Chieng said the startup is also looking to hire more technicians and bring more vets onto the platform with the new funding.
As Vetsie scales, Chieng said the platform could expand to many other facets of pet care. The startup is planning to set up an e-commerce marketplace where owners can buy supplements or toys online. He said the platform could also prove useful in connecting pet owners with other service professionals, such as groomers or trainers.
Vetsie is entering a market that has grown more competitive thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. There are several virtual care platforms in Canada targeted toward veterinary services. One of these platforms includes Vetster, a Toronto-based virtual veterinary and pet care marketplace, which recently secured $12.25 million in Series A funding.
Others include Vancouver’s GoFetch and Toronto’s Pawzy.co, which also offer tech-based pet care services. Virtual care for both humans and their pets has emerged as a critical sector during the pandemic, both in the Canadian tech ecosystem and in the healthcare sector, which has faced widespread disruption.
“While the telehealth for humans market is saturating, there is still a large untapped market in the telehealth sector in the form of veterinarians,” Samarth Chandola, founder of First Fund VC, told BetaKit in a statement. “With pet adoption spiking during COVID-19, and Vetsie already being in beta pilot tests with several vet clinics, this is a great opportunity for us to get involved early with a very blue-sky startup.”
Chieng, like many entrepreneurs looking to build virtual care solutions, believes the demand won’t go anywhere once the pandemic is over.
“A lot of vets are really liking virtual care,” he said. “It saves them so much time while they’re in the clinic, they can do consultations over the weekend from their home or when they’re on vacation, so I strongly believe that virtual is going to be here to stay.”
Image courtesy of Vetsie.