March 19, 2021

Why we Invested in Digitail

"There are few things with my job that I appreciate more than when people drastically surpass all my expectations!" - Sara Rywe, Investor here at byFounders, was so impressed by the founder's tenacity, extraordinary grit and structure, she knew we absolutely needed to be part of their journey.

Sara Rywe
Why we Invested in Digitail

Being Blown Away

Our journey begins in 2019 when we were first introduced to Sebastian Gabor and Ruxandra Pui (Rux). Impressed with their tenacity, extraordinary grit and structure, we instantly knew this power team would be one to keep a close eye on.

In September 2020, they geared up for fundraising, and we started a more in-depth conversation about Digitail: an integrated veterinary management system and pet parent app. Sebastian and Ruxandra shared their vision of bringing a product to the pet market that would improve the experience of vets and pet parents, and also enable data-driven and personalized preventive pet care.

"We want to build the digital foundation on which amazing startups can continue to innovate and bring tech-driven solutions to pet care while making sure that the veterinarian is still in the center of the ecosystem" — Sebastian Gabor, CEO and co-founder of Digitail

Throughout our conversations with the founders and our team reference calls, another thing was repeatedly confirmed: Sebastian and Rux are some of the most hard-working founders we’ve ever encountered. When we also heard that the founders themselves stood for 100% of customer success, covering 300+ veterinary clinics, and yet receiving so much praise from their customers, we realized that what the references told us really was true.

It became clear: We needed to be part of their journey!

Alexandru (DVM, Healthcare Specialist), Ruxandra (Co-founder), Sebastian (Co-founder)

The Pet Industry is Howling

Pre-COVID, more than 67% of US households owned a pet. Amidst the pandemic, however, surveys found that 33% of Americans were considering to foster or adopt a furry friend. The number of pet parents is definitely howling!

Furthermore, 39% of pet owners today are millennials, and 44% of vets are under the age of 40. The new generation craves user friendly tools that make their work and life run smoothly. However, the current market offering to vets and pet parents is not easily manoeuvrable. In the case that there even are digital platforms, they are specialized for each use case, like health records or appointment booking, and do not speak together.

On the other side, the veterinarian’s management system is like something out of the ’90s - think paperwork and filing cabinets - and the few vets who are using cloud-based PMS (Practice Information Management Software) systems are lacking the direct communication link to pet parents. This absence of a digitized and integrated system makes it impossible for them to provide a holistic approach to pet care.

Pet industry expenditure in the US from 1994 to 2020 (in billion U.S. dollars). Source: Statista 2021

That said: The pet industry has grown 2x in ten years, is predicted to reach $350 billion by 2027, and 45% of pet owners spend the same amount of money on the healthcare of their pet as their own. So you might understand why we’re excited?

Why Telemedicine is Not the (Only) Solution

We’ve seen a lot of innovation in the vet space the past couple of years, however, these have mostly been in the telemedicine space, and there’s an obvious limit to what vets can do on a video consultation. There is, after all, one important distinction between online pet and vet consultations, and patient and doctor consultations: pets cannot speak.

"You can’t ask a dog about where it hurts or how they feel. We, therefore, need to see the pets in real life in the absolute majority of cases." - UK-based veterinary

Through our conversations with several veterinarians, it, therefore, became quite clear to us that telemedicine is nothing more than one of many vital features. Even though vets appreciate telemedicine being part of Digitail’s offering, it’s the other features, like the chat function, stock management intelligence, and laboratory integrations, they appreciate the most.

We believe that instead of replacing veterinarians with an online-only solution, we need digital tools that enable them to adapt their operations, based on the needs of their customers, to provide the best pet care possible.

It’s this market gap, between the ever-growing expectations of millennial pet parents and the experience offered by veterinarians, Digitail is working to fill. By creating an end-to-end ecosystem for pets (with a lot of new exciting developments I won’t tell you about yet 😉), Digitail’s positioning allows for extraordinary data advantages and can help build a new level of trust between vets and pet parents.

Pet Owners & Veterinarians Love Digitail

Digitail’s PMS system is currently improving the workflow of more than 2,000 veterinarians in 16 countries, allowing vets to focus on pet care, retention, and customer experience, rather than filing manual paperwork. Meanwhile, the integrated customer app (also called Digital Health Card) currently enables 500,000 pet parents to access all their medical information in real-time and to connect with their vet instantly.

Simply put: customers love Digitail! Not only do they have raging online reviews, but also really engaged and happy customers who are building a community amongst themselves. (And yes, they also have <1% churn!)

Nailing the Fundraising Process

Finally, I want to share some anecdotes from Digitail’s fundraising process

Sebastian and Rux addressed fundraising the same way founders should address product development — ship features fast and automate as much as possible to reduce manual workload, and then iterate and improve with time:

  • When we asked for a product demo, they sent us pre-recorded demo videos with clear explanations.
  • When we honed in on KPIs, they integrated them into their analytics software, so that we could track them in real-time.
  • When we asked about their GTM approach, they showed us an interactive map that visualized the interdependencies of their different marketing channels and proved, with data, at which point organic growth could skyrocket, based on localized viral effects.
  • When we asked them general questions, they turned them into a Notion page with toggles, so we could easily share their answers with the team.
  • When we asked for references, existing shareholders and customers stood ready to provide all the historic input we needed, when needed.

We were also blown away by their data-room which is one of the best we’ve ever seen. So, needless to say, the team continued to impress us the more we got to know them.

byFounders Love Digitail

We are so proud to have been given the opportunity to back the founders of Digitail, and to support them on their journey to transform everything pet-care-related. We wired the money to Digitail without ever having met the founders in person — a decision we haven’t regretted once.

This investment is done with the purpose to really accelerate Digitail’s expansion to the US, which is also why we are so happy to have our dear friends across the pond, at Gradient Ventures (Google’s AI-focused early-stage venture fund — a VC arm of Alphabet), and Partech, as co-investors.

Lastly, I also want to mention that I personally feel honored to have had a chance to witness their journey: from being a small, scrappy and hard-working team at FTMO’s accelerator program, to having 300+ customers and a global footprint (+ landing an oversubscribed competitive seed round)!

Are you a pet enthusiast who wants to join a true rocketship? Digitail is looking for talent to several open positions! Check them out here.

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Sara Rywe

Sara is a Partner at byFounders.

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