• Romanian pet tech Digitail, which provides a platform that automates veterinarians’ daily tasks, has raised over €10M.
• The Series A was led by European VC Atomico.
• The startup has secured over €13M so far to scale redesigned pet care worldwide.
“Demand for pet care has grown, but the systems vets rely on to deliver care are not fit. They are outdated, are still run on local servers in the clinic, and are built without the pet owner in mind. Digitail’s solution is cloud-first, and it covers all workflows end-to-end in the clinic, and in collaboration with the pet owners — from simple vaccine reminders to more sophisticated health records and inventory management,” Andreas Helbig, Atomico principal, who will join Digitail’s board, shared.
Digitail is working on freeing up veterinarians’ time so they can focus on their patients, not on bureaucracy. They work with over 750 clinics worldwide that serve over 1M pets.
The team aims to also provide a solution for the low rate at which pets are seen by their local medical professionals due to a lack of personnel and time, but also to help pet parents with their furry family member’s medical history and management.
“There are not enough humans to take care of all the animals and this is something I’ve experienced first-hand as a pet parent,” Sebastian Gabor, co-founder, and CEO of pet tech Digitail, reveals.
This Series A will be used to scale operations across the US, and Canada, and continue its global expansion. The team will further develop the product depth and feature range of its all-in-one platform.
Digitalizing the pet care industry one paw at a time
Sebastian says that, unlike the medical industry at large, the veterinary industry is yet to face a digital transformation. Scheduling, inventory management, invoicing, and patient record data entry are on his plan with Digitail.
While veterinarians have access to software that helps with management tasks, which is lower to around three days per month, pet owners receive medical summaries and can communicate with the vet through the Digitail app.
Digitail was launched in 2018 by Sebastian Gabor as CEO, and Ruxandra Pui (#women in tech)as CPO in Iasi, Romania, but it’s now headquartered in the US. They both have a background in computer science, but Sebastian has also experience in business administration, while Ruxandra in UX.
The pet care global market
The pet care global market is estimated to reach over €300B by 2030, accelerated by the pandemic, the new generation’s habits of pet ownership, and more visits to the vet for checkups, and emergency procedures.
Statistics show that veterinarians are more likely to burnout and face depression than the general population due to a stressful profession, where they have to cope with the high demand of treating 30+ pets per day, along with reports for each one.
This can, in turn, hurt the pets, with incidents of animals being turned away from appointments due to overwhelmed capacity, and reports of shortages in staff to treat animals in the U.S.
Another startup offering a pet care solution in our region is Bulgarian DoggoCollar, which developed a collar that tracks the location and vital signs of the wearer.
In the interview below, pet tech Digitail’s CEO, Sebastian Gabor, will share more about what it took to be one of the youngest and the first Series A founder in our region this year.
Born in Romania, but scaled in the U.S., what would you say were the core steps to raising over €13M since the launch in 2018?
Sebastian Gabor, Digitail: We were inspired to solve a problem that impacted us as pet parents and made us aware of a much bigger issue in the veterinary industry. Veterinarians are stretched for time using antiquated systems which are causing gaps in pet health care. We are using technology to streamline practice management, allowing veterinarians to do more of what they are passionate about which is caring for pets.
From working in a co-working space, with no funding and a dream, to a team of almost 40 working from different corners of the world: the journey has had its ups and downs.
Looking backward, the main milestones have been (almost as planned):
- Get the product in the hands of one hospital and prove that we help and empower them
- Scale the product to 100 customers
- Get into Fast Track Malmo (ftmo) accelerator in Sweden and raise $250K in funding
- Become a market leader in Romania and start working with hospitals in over 10 countries
- Raise our seed round from byFounders, Gradient, and Partech, and shift focus to the US and Canada (as they are the largest and most promising markets)
- Cross $1M in ARR with over 80% of revenue coming from the US and Canada
- Raise a Series A round from a Tier 1 investor who can help us become the market share leader of the veterinary cloud practice management system market in the US and Canada, and reimagine how pet care is delivered in a modern and interconnected world
Can you tell me more about how your solution works and how it has evolved over the years? Was there key feedback from users that made you pivot or update the solution in a certain area?
We have always built based on customer feedback. We do have our vision of how pet care will look in the future, but we focus on solving the real-world problems of today.
We have initially worked on the veterinary cloud-based PIMS (practice information management system) which currently is one of the most trusted all-in-one systems on the market with a full range of features such as medical record management (EHR), CRM functionality, inventory, invoicing and payments, telemedicine and 2-way chat, electronic consent forms, scheduling, and online booking system, and workflow and task management.
The first version of Digitail had a basic EHR and CRM capability. During the first year of operations, we started working on a dedicated app for pet parents that can connect them with their veterinarians and provide them with a “vet in your pocket experience”.
Now, pet parents can download our iOS or Android app to:
- Connect with your vet (or find one if you do not have a GP vet yet)
- Centralize your pet’s medical records
- Find the discharge notes from your veterinarian
- Book appointments online
- Chat and have a telemedicine consult with your vet
- Manage weight and log information that can be shared automatically and in a structured format with your veterinarian
- *Coming next: chronic condition management tools to help patients with diabetes and chronic kidney disease
In 2022, we have started advancing our analytics tool to empower animal hospitals with key medical and business insights. In the process, we have also developed a tool to automate data migration, which is a crucial step when hospitals make the step to change their old legacy systems to Digitail.
Have there been any specific local upgrades while scaling Digitail in different countries – do Europeans need something else compared to Americans?
This was an important lesson that we learned early on. Even though each hospital – regardless of the country they are in – will require almost the same functionality, we have discovered that to be competitive, we need to hyper-adapt to each local geography.
The biggest shock was that our UX, which is highly appreciated in North America and Europe, was not what hospitals in Asia needed. They are used to having a large volume of information on one screen, with flashy updates that change in real-time.
Currently, we can manage the needs of animal hospitals from over 16 markets and are making sure they get exactly what they need.
Digitalization of the pet tech field in emerging markets is still witnessing low adoption rates due to a lack of knowledge, what can you tell us about your target, have you done any educational campaigns?
There are 2 explanations that I found relevant:
1. Due to the shortage of veterinarians, they are overwhelmed, seeing more than 30 patients per day which makes it impossible for them to have the mental space to think about innovation or process improvement.
2. The vet industry has been disregarded by innovators, which has created a void of great solutions that can help
Once we were able to help with the second challenge, we started focusing on making the change process as easy as possible for animal hospitals to update their operating systems (PIMS).
To go back down memory lane, our first year in Romania required a heavy lift to educate veterinarians and show the value of automation. Currently, this has changed and veterinarians are already aware of the need and of the huge cost they would have to pay if they do not leverage digital tools.
The US is currently at a point where 40% of the market will switch to cloud solutions over the next few years.
How has your business model evolved over the years?
From a business model perspective, we are a verticalized B2B SaaS business. Our revenue streams are straightforward monthly subscriptions with no hidden fees and embedded finance solutions.
What is a priority with this funding round?
To become a market leader in the US and Canada for cloud veterinary practice management systems (PIMS), one of our main focuses is recruiting a superstar team who are passionate about technology, have experience in the veterinary industry, and who advocate for our mission of improving the quality of life for pets by supercharging veterinarians and by bringing a collaborative approach to pet care.
Then, it’s all about setting the foundation for our next phase of product-led growth by opening the platform and increasing collaboration between vets, pet parents, and other stakeholders. Our technical focus will be on delivering scale to our core product offering while building out the experimental infrastructure that will deliver our next phase of growth, focusing on additional services for animal hospitals: embedded finance; development of the B2C channel: increased collaboration; data-led services: data structure, aggregation and setting up a safe space where veterinarians own their data and can get insights from it.
Followed by leveraging the data and the revolution in the observability of human and pet information. The goal is to empower vets with medical and business insights and to enable them to share and collaborate with pet parents and other vets to improve treatments, increase prevention, and stop the next disease outbreak on its track.
Are there any trends in the industry you are keeping your eye on, maybe to bring on board Digitail through M&As?
Many great startups are coming into the space, especially on the topic of at-home care for pets. The goal is to create an ecosystem where those startups can grow and have an impact sustainably.
We are not currently looking into M&As, but we are not disregarding this possibility. Our focus is on building the right team for this amazing journey and taking advantage of this timed opportunity!