Six months to Series A. The Next Unicorn Is Disrupting The Multi-billion-dollar Petcare Industry

Small Business Canada

Mark Bordo, CEO and Co-Founder, Vetster

The CEO and Co-Founder of Vetster, Mark Bordo gives us an insight into the several disruptions in the pet care industry in our final segment. Focusing on the importance of telemedicine for pets to improve veterinary care, Bordo discusses the role of Vetster and how has it helped in making veterinary care more accessible, convenient and affordable for pet owners.

Mark has been a tech entrepreneur with a focus on consumer marketplaces for over 20 years. He is excited to have the chance to pair his love for animals with his tech marketplace experience and work with this great industry helping to transform pet care.

How the rise in pet ownership – coupled with the need for virtual veterinary telemedicine as a result of the pandemic makes the pet care industry perfect for disruption?

There are several elements making now the right time for Vetster to transform the way pet owners and veterinarians approach pet care.

The first is the rapid growth of the pet care industry. In the last year, it’s risen more than 25% to nearly $100-billion. The pandemic created a silver lining with many people having the opportunity to adopt or own a pet. Over the last year, we’ve seen pet stores, breeders, and human societies empty as people made room for pets in their lives.

This growth in turn has resulted in an increasing need for veterinary care. Vet clinics across North America have seen up to 50% more patients. But that growth has also been within the context of a year where seeing patients in-clinic has been challenging with added safety protocols, limited staff, and longer working hours.

The pet care industry is going through a technology revolution. The introduction of numerous software and industry tech is pushing pet care forward. As technology advances in this space, the opportunity for telemedicine will grow simultaneously.

There is now a dire need for pet owners to access care. Vetster is stepping forward as the fastest-growing on-demand veterinary platform to help veterinarians serve more clients and supplement their clinical practice while enabling pet owners to find, book, and meet with a veterinarian at a time that is convenient to them and when and where their pet needs care. It’s been six months since we launched and we have already established Vetster as the largest platform in North America with veterinarians in every state and province in North America.

Can you share your vision for a pet care marketplace, based on your experience building Canada’s largest short-term rental marketplace that was sold to Expedia?

In 2008 when we created CanadaStays, we were one of the first short-term rental marketplaces in Canada and the first to build a marketplace at scale. It was a time when mobile technologies were just emerging, social media was nascent, and the idea of finding and booking a vacation rental without speaking to someone was unfamiliar.

Our success was a direct result of our ability to build an elegant platform, quickly attract a large inventory, and connect customers to ideal vacation properties based on their preferences. We honed those skills and grew quickly, attracting the attention of HomeAway, VRBO & Expedia which ultimately acquired us. As part of the HomeAway/ Expedia team, we were introduced to the rigor and big thinking of a global organization.

This combined experience of building a startup in an emerging market, with the massive scale and resourcing of a large enterprise that has Vetster setting its sights on building the world’s preferred pet care platform and a global brand. We raised our Series A after only six months in the market, are already working on our next round, and are quickly expanding to new markets and introducing new services and products into our marketplace for pet owners.

How Vetster is making veterinary care more accessible, convenient, and affordable for pet owners?

Pet ailments can occur at any time. While traveling, in the middle of the night, on Christmas Eve whenever… Pet parents often don’t know where to turn and worse, in an emergency aren’t always confident in their decision to go to an urgent care hospital. This is where Vetster steps forward to make it easy to access veterinary care 24/7. Whether you’re up at the cottage, in your RV, or stuck at the office on a major work deadline, Vetster provides access to high-quality licensed veterinary care.

Our web and mobile app make it convenient to find a veterinarian at a time that works for the pet owner. With secure video, audio, and chat options pet owners can speak to a trusted, verified veterinarian who can help to assess the pet, diagnose and even prescribe medication.

Vetster manages payment and invoicing, provides a summary of the appointment, and keeps the appointment records on file for future appointments.  The overall experience is seamless, modern, and generating 5-star reviews across the board!

How telemedicine for pets is helping to improve veterinary care?

Telemedicine for pets marks a fundamental shift in how pet owners can care for their pets. No longer do they need to delay making an appointment to wait for availability or because of their own busy schedule. No longer do they hesitate to make an appointment for a minor ailment. Now we see pet parents become proactive about their pet’s health in a more holistic way. Because it’s convenient, accessible, and affordable. Vetster gives pet parents the ability to connect with veterinary care more often throughout the year to improve the health outcomes of their animals.

For veterinarians, Vetster augments the in-clinic care they offer and provides a new delivery method of care. Clinics can expand their practice online and direct what types of care are offered online vs in-person. This empowers veterinarians to optimize the in-clinic resources while expanding their practice in new ways. At the same time, we are seeing other veterinarians establishing themselves online and building their specialty in telemedicine. This marks the beginning of a seachange moment where petcare is expanding, becoming more sophisticated, and digitally driven. With Vetster, no matter where you’re located – in the city, a remote area – no matter what time of day, or what ailment you are concerned with, Vetster is a click away from finding the care and answers you need.

On a final note can you please share the top 3 tried and tested tips for Building For Global Scale with our readers?

Think globally from the beginning. Our mindset has evolved from our days at CanadaStays. We built an incredible Canadian platform, but competitors were emerging in other markets. With Vetster we’re thinking global and moving quickly to establish Vetster as the go-to platform for pet care. Our mindset is a key contributor to being in every state and province in North America.

Find the team that knows what you don’t. Great startups work together in concert, and to move quickly you need a team that brings experience and bench strength in order for that growth to happen. The team is everything.

Live faithfully in your mission. In the early days of building a business, more people will tell you the obstacles and challenges than they will show you the opportunities. Be resolute and optimistic.

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