Henry Mortimer, citybiz Editor-at-Large, Interview with Mark Olcott, CEO of VitusVet


Helping Veterinarians Run Their Practices More Efficiently — and Making Pets Healthier

By Henry Mortimer, citybiz Editor-at-Large

Any breakdown in communication can jeopardize the important relationship between veterinarians and their clients -- pet owners and their pets. And when malfunctions occur, says Mark Olcott, DVM, MBA, a veterinarian and CEO/co-founder of VitusVet, a veterinary practice management tool provider, they can often have dire consequences.

A few years ago, one of Olcott’s patients, a dog named Bogey, admitted for a fairly routine procedure, had a negative reaction to one of the medications and died on the operating table. As Olcott says, the tragedy could have been easily prevented if he had had access to the pet’s electronic medical records. Something human patients and their loved ones take for granted these days.

Upset by the incident, and frustrated by how antiquated his profession had become -- while the medical industry for humans was leaping and bounding ahead, in terms of technology, innovation and revenue -- Olcott set out in 2013 to develop veterinary practice management software that would allow vet practices to run more efficiently and effectively, by eliminating the potential for errors, and providing opportunities for pet owners and providers to communicate better. 

Since then, VitusVet has grown into an all-in-one digital pet care solution that offers round-the-clock access to vital information, appointment scheduling, and prescription refills, to name a few. And it helps pet owners and providers stay connected through a blend of email notifications, text messages, and postcard mailings.

VitusVet recently raised a $2.5M Series A and has been experiencing rapid (150+%) year-over-year annual recurring revenue growth since then. Olcott credits this growth spurt in part to a number of recent partnerships, including Nationwide, one of the first and largest insurers to offer coverage for pets, and fintech innovator Splitit, an online payment service that will automatically split payments into installments using a pet owner’s existing credit card.

Partnerships like these are critical, says Olcott, because they allow VitusVet to arm veterinary practices -- by and large small- and medium-sized businesses -- with state-of-the-art tools that offer a competitive advantage so they can practice better medicine and build client loyalty.

“In this way, they can make the conversation about care, not just cost,” he says, and “help pet owners say ‘yes’ to the care their pets need.”

Mark Olcott, DVM, MBA, is co-founder and CEO of VitusVet. He earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University in 1995 and, in 2013, his MBA from the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland. Mark was a partner for several years in a multi-doctor small animal practice before leaving to start his own mobile ultrasonography business. More recently, Mark worked as an Emergency Veterinarian at a major regional referral hospital, where he was named by his peers as one of the Top Veterinarians in Virginia. Mark holds multiple patents and is a published author.

Interview Questions:

Q1: Personal story Your career combines veterinary medicine, both as a practitioner and a practice owner, an MBA, and leading-edge “pet tech” innovations. Can you share with us how you came to bring all of your passions together to form VitusVet? (reference to Bogie story)

Q2: Vision You have been focused on VitusVet for nearly 10 years. What grand vision are you and your co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Kalpesh Raval working towards?

Q3: SaaS payment Tell us more about your transition to a "SaaS plus payments" company in the veterinary space.

Q4: Adoption challenges Despite the increase in technology over the last decades, particularly in availability of electronic medical records and practice management software, a majority of veterinary practices still haven’t made the switch from paper records and landlines. In contrast with other healthcare segments, one could argue that vets are not ready for or willing to make mass adoption. From your own customer discovery research, what behavioral barriers have you seen in the adoption of digital technology?

Q5: COVID-19 impact COVID-19 has both accelerated the need for and reduced the availability of many healthcare and related services. We also know that social isolation during the pandemic has increased the risk of mental illness in pet owners, driving an increase in pet purchases and adoption. How has COVID affected the demand for your services, and more specifically, how has VitusVet responded to the pandemic?

Q6: Competition Over the last decade, a number of pet industry and pet-tech startups have emerged in the veterinary ecosystem. Some of the big players now include PetDesk, Chewy and Petco, which now offers everything from pet food to vet services instore. How is VitusVet different from other online offerings, and how would define your competitive advantage?

Q7: Business model Can you walk us through your business and pricing model?

Q8: Partners Your business model is based in part on relationships with key and emerging partners, such as the Veterinary Hospital Managers Association, key suppliers like Miller Veterinary Supply, and Nationwide, one of the first and largest insurers to offer coverage for pets. What potential do these partnerships offer for revenue growth? What others are you seeking?

Q9: Funding VitusVet raised a $2.5M Series A in 201X and has been experiencing rapid 150+% YoY ARR growth. You’re now seeking to raise a $2M bridge round to reach profitability by this time next year. Why are you raising money now specifically? And more generally, how do you plan to use the funds?

Q10: Next steps What are the the next steps for VitusVet, and what keeps you up at night?

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