Visit Your Vet From Home: Culver City's Airvet Raises $14M
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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Eliminating battery waste, developing new hair growth therapy, fixing carbon dioxide. These are among some of the ambitious problems that companies are trying to solve at the First Look SoCal Innovation Showcase beginning Tuesday.
Hosted by nonprofit Alliance for SoCal Innovation, the online event connects early-stage tech and life science companies with investors and serial entrepreneurs.
BioZen Batteries Aims to Solve Our Energy Storage Issues<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://dot.la/media-library/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDI0Nzg5MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNTg3OTYyNn0.y9dSMjovB1GtsQ1SZhKiPTIJY3VW0XOE2YXd-JN1xYU/image.jpg?width=980" id="95064" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c3ad9197ad70005802e6d34d6da3c29d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Left to right: BioZen Batteries' co-founders Zach Rengert, Nate Kirchhofer and Eric Brigham.<p>Nate Kirchhofer, co-founder and CEO of <a href="https://biozenbatteries.com/" target="_blank">BioZen Batteries</a>, wants to make batteries that will outlive him.</p><p>Santa Barbara-based BioZen creates organic electrolytes, the active material inside a specific type of battery called a "redox flow battery." It's a different type of technology that differs from the lithium batteries often used in mobile applications like cars and phones. Only 5% of those get recycled.</p><p>BioZen's batteries are well suited for green, large-scale energy storage, Kirchhofer said. For example, batteries that help solar panels connect to the grid or provide backup during disasters when the power goes out.</p><p>Kirchhofer, an electrochemist, founded the company in June of 2019 with Zach Rengert, a materials chemist, and Eric Brigham, the company's CFO. Kirchhofer and Rengert met while getting their doctorate at UC Santa Barbara.</p><p>There hasn't yet been a push for sustainable batteries because it isn't economically incentivized, Kirchhofer told dot.LA. He said that his batteries are cheaper than competitors.</p><p>Kirchhofer's product fits into a growing renewable energy market and a social movement in which individuals want to do their part. He's worked for four startups but says this one is poised to make the biggest impact.</p><p>"If it's not our generation that solves climate change, there's not another chance. There's not another Earth." he said. "If we can make these batteries happen, we can truly integrate renewable energy and stop the petroleum-dominated energy paradigm we're part of."</p>
Amplifica's founder Dr. Maksim Plikus
Amplifica Treats Baldness with Mole Molecules<p>Back in 2013, Amplifica's founder Dr. Maksim Plikus began studying hairy moles. Though some find the growths unsightly, his work showed promise for baldness treatment.</p><p>He, along with colleagues at UC Irvine, discovered that molecules from moles that grow excessive hair can induce follicle growth when administered anywhere on the skin.</p><p>"As long as you can tease it out and replicate it in the form of purified molecules, you can achieve essentially what we think would be a novel, revolutionary solution to baldness," Plikus told dot.LA.</p><p>Plikus said his company is the first to solve hair loss by replicating cells from hairy moles to stimulate hair growth. At the moment, hair follicle research has emerged as a leading experimental model for studying stem cells.</p><p>By 2025, hair-loss products are projected to surpass $12 billion, Plikus said. But only two drugs are FDA approved and require daily treatment in the form of pills, which he said come with long-term side effects.</p><p>Amplifica says it's poised to put a more effective and convenient solution on the market. Pinkus' proposed product is a topical solution requiring less frequent application, like getting Botox injections a few times per year.</p>
FixingCO2 Aims to Recycle Fuel from the Air<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://dot.la/media-library/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDI0ODM4My9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzMzA1ODA4MH0.9RqwD9zUN1et1kor8zNPj8WH2kOX6SrysdpRDFT5QMc/image.jpg?width=980" id="daa89" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9851b177139c4b5e06bd9c96fb395083" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
FixingCO2's team. CEO Eldar Akhmetgaliyev is at right.<p><a href="https://fixingco2.com/" target="_blank">FixingCO2</a> got its start on Mars. Like the name says, the company aims to fix the global carbon problem that's fueling climate change.</p><p>In 2018, co-founder Alma Zhanaidarova's professor and research group at UC San Diego received a grant from NASA to build out a reactor that makes renewable fuels and chemicals from carbon dioxide, often a byproduct of industrial waste. The technology was being developed in anticipation of a one-day human mission to Mars, where 95% of the atmosphere is carbon dioxide.</p><p>Now, the San Diego-based startup is commercializing their product for earthlings.</p><p>"It's a different application but the same core technology," co-founder Eldar Akhmetgaliyev told dot.LA. "Instead of making fuels from oil or any other fossil sources, we can make them essentially from air."</p><p>The team is developing the hardware to capture industrial emissions blamed for much of the Earth's warming. The product has significant application for the aviation industry, where planes are built to burn jet fuel that produces carbon emissions.</p><p>"These kinds of technologies provide them a pathway to decarbonization," he said. "They can use fuels made from CO2 so they're not contributing to climate change."</p><p>As fires burn through California and the Pacific Northwest, Akhmetgaliyev said there's urgency for innovators in the carbon tech market. "We're pretty much turning our planet into Mars," he said.</p><p>He said that by 2050, about 14% of overall carbon reduction will come from carbon capture and utilization (CCUS) technology like his.</p><p>"The market hasn't met its opportunity and with the effects of climate change being seen everyday, there's going to be more drive towards these low carbon technologies."</p>
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This Test Prep Service has a Cult Following Among Med Students. Soon it Will Have an Animation Studio
The unnamed king wears a crown and large pink robe as he grasps a tissue to his nose.
No, this isn't some Netflix show on the quarantine lives of the rich and famous; it's actually a method SketchyMedical uses to help students recall complicated concepts.
Such images by Los Angeles-based online education startup SketchyMedical have helped catapult the company to cult status among the med school set, who dress up in their drawings for Halloween. One fan even got a tattoo of SketchyMedical's pencil representing penicillin.
On Thursday, SketchyMedical announced its first outside investment stake, a $30 million shot in the arm from former Hollywood executive Peter Chernin's investment firm TCG to help establish an in-house animation studio that will bring to life those famous sketches and expand its team of 30 employees.
- A Test Prep Service with a Cult Following - dot.LA ›
- A Test Prep Service with a Cult Following - dot.LA ›