Tele-Vet Service Modern Animal's CEO o​n How the Pandemic Boosted App Adoption

Tele-Vet Service Modern Animal's CEO o​n How the Pandemic Boosted App Adoption

Before CEO and founder Steven Eidelman launched Modern Animal in 2018, his most concerning question was, are people going to be comfortable relying on a mobile app to provide pet care?

The answer appears to be a resounding "yes," and the pandemic has helped prove the point, he said Tuesday at a dotLA Summit panel.

It was April 2020, when Modern Animal opened its first physical clinic in West Hollywood. The company offers both in-clinic and virtual appointments 24-hours-a-day and seven-days-a-week telemedicine via a fully-featured mobile app.

According to Eidelman, the clinic has had a few thousand assignments come through, and not a single person has entered its doors. He said, the current times have highlighted, "where we're at today in innovation and how technology is enabling a lot of, even, more traditional legacy businesses."

Apps tend to come easy to the younger demographic. Eidelman said, "The reality is I think the older population is still a little bit resistant to having everything happen through a mobile app or everything happen though a website. A lot of our customers primarily are millennial or Gen Z. For them, it's become second nature — even over the course of this six months — to expect pretty much everything to be done virtually."

Eidelman, an L.A. native who recently returned from the Bay Area where his previous company, Whistle, was based, has noticed the region's business embrace technology

"Technology's finally found its way into changing workflow, changing the way companies do business, changing the way consumers consume content, whether it's services products. There's a strong culture of brand, of creativity," he said. "And I think those additional resources that exist in L.A., I think en masse don't exist, necessarily, in the Bay Area."

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As Thanksgiving approached, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti implored residents to stay home and halt all nonessential travel as COVID-19 cases skyrocketed.

But on Thanksgiving Day, Peter Pham, one of L.A.'s most prominent early-stage investors and the co-founder of Science Inc, a Santa Monica startup studio and early-stage venture fund that manages over $100 million and recently launched a $310.5 million SPAC, posted a selfie of himself atop Las Vegas' High Roller ferris wheel.

He was clutching a can of Liquid Death, the bad boy-themed canned water brand that has improbably become Science's buzziest startup. Pham guzzles six cans a day, because he says he does not trust municipal tap water.

"I'm not afraid of dying," Pham told me recently. "There's risk for everything and COVID is a risk that I feel very confident in my ability to deal with. I could be wrong and that's OK. I am OK if I fucked up and I die from it."

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Despite — or in many cases because of — the raging pandemic, 2020 was a great year for many tech startups. It turned out to be an ideal time to be in the video game business, developing a streaming ecommerce platform for Gen Z, or helping restaurants with their online ordering.

But which companies in Southern California had the best year? That is highly subjective of course. But in an attempt to highlight who's hot, we asked dozens of the region's top VCs to weigh in.

We wanted to know what companies they wish they would have invested in if they could go back and do it all over again.

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