Culver City-based Airvet's mission to connect more pets with vets is getting a boost.
The company announced Friday they have raised $14 million in a Series A round to expand their telemedicine and telehealth veterinary network.
CEO Brandon Werber said he's seen the number of users and doctors on its platform surge during the pandemic, as homebound pet owners scrambled to find pet care online. The company — which was launched in 2018 — now has a network of 2,600 veterinarians across 43 states, according to Werber.
The raise was led by Canvas Ventures and includes funding from e.ventures, Burst Capital, Starting Line, TrueSight Ventures, Hawke Ventures, Bracket Capital, Michael Stoppelman, and several major veterinary industry leaders. dot.LA founder Spencer Rascoff is also an investor.
Pet owners can download the app on Android or iPhone and set up a meeting with a licensed vet for a $30 flat fee per session. There's no time limit per session. Werber said often those sessions include follow-ups.
About 71% of pet owners go to Google or social media to answer their questions about their pet's odd behavior, Werber said, where they often get amateur advice that can put their furry friends at risk. That, he says, is the behavior he hopes Airvet can change.
He adds the platform isn't intended to replace in-person vet visits, but to give people unsure of whether to take their pet in another option.
"So the goal for us, isn't to say 'hey, use Airvet instead of going to the (vet's) office', it's 'use Airvet instead of going to Google,"' he said.
Werber is the son of "veterinarian to the stars" Dr. Jeff Werber, a regular face on KTLA who counts Demi Moore, Rod Stewart and Nick Jonas's pets among his patients.
Werber calls his father the company's chief vet officer and the inspiration for the platform.
Photo courtesy of Airvet
"The vet industry has no face," he said. "People don't know their own vets' name, 50% of pet owners don't even have a primary vet."
Telehealth has been growng in popularity during the pandemic, and healthcare apps like Cloudbreak and GoodRx have been expanding their businesses rapidly. Virtual veterinary medicine would be a logical next step.
Airvet provides both telehealth and telemedicine. The difference is subtle but important in veterinary medicine. Any user can download the app to get recommendations and suggestions from licensed vets. But only veterinarians who have an established relationship with the animal and the owner can actually prescribe drugs or care. In most states, that must be done in person, largely because a pet can't describe pain over video chat the way a human can. A vet often has to be physically present to assess the animal's condition.
Airvet can help establish those relationships, but for many, the app might be most useful to figure out whether their pet's condition is serious enough to require a visit to the local vet.
"Part of our business is we partner with vet hospitals [...] so that they can practice telemedicine with their own clients," Weber said, adding that the app can also be downloaded by "any pet owner in the country for telehealth and they can get advice and guidance and support and things from vets on demand 24/7."
Werber says the app's aim is to provide everyone the experience he had with his father, one of the nation's most recognizable vets, and someone he had on call at any time of day.
"I want every pet owner to know that they have a vet in their pocket, and if anything were to happen, day or night — even three in the morning — they can tap a button and a vet will be there to talk to them within a minute or less." Werber said.
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