Two trends are pushing the pet insurance market along in many countries. The first is technology, which allows vets to save, or extend the lives of cats, dogs, rabbits and other furry friends. The second is the pressure from consumers in terms of demanding some type of affordability when it comes to urgent pet care and a visit to the local vet. But maybe the way to reduce costs for pet owners is to offer a virtual vet service, so that online diagnosis saves time, and money. Here’s some interesting news from FirstVet, a start-up with big dreams, and a few extra million in the bank to help realise those ambitions.
FirstVet, the Swedish startup which provides pet-owners with on-demand video consultations with local, qualified veterinarians, has closed an €18.5M Series B funding round led by London-based OMERS Ventures, which earlier this year launched a €300 million fund aimed at European technology startups. Early-stage venture capital firm Creandum (early backers of Spotify), which previously led FirstVet’s Series A, participated.
The funding will enable FirstVet to expand its service globally, with the company looking to launch in other markets, such as the United States, Germany, and France. (Note, only around 2 percent of pet owners in the USA have pet insurance, so the market growth potential in the USA is huge – Ed)
In addition, FirstVet will continue to develop its product and introduce new features to improve the experience for pet owners and vets alike, such as new automation tools and integration with clinics’ existing systems.
This latest round of financing, which will see OMERS Ventures’ Principal Henry Gladwyn assume a board position, takes FirstVet’s total funding to-date to €24.5M.
Founded in 2016 in Stockholm, Sweden, FirstVet is revolutionising pet care through the facilitation of on-demand video consultations with highly qualified, registered veterinarians. With a presence in five markets (the United Kingdom, Norway, Denmark, Finland, and its native Sweden), FirstVet has more than 200,000 registered users and has helped over 150,000 pets since launching in 2016.
FirstVet has successfully increased efficiency within the veterinary industry by being the first independent point of contact for pet owners who are worried about their pet’s wellbeing. Through partnerships with over 20 major insurance companies across all markets, including with Bought By Many in the UK, the FirstVet service is free-of-charge for millions of pet owners, and helps to address the issue of widespread veterinarian shortages. There are currently 150 veterinarians on the platform, with this number growing continually.
“FirstVet is the first truly neutral stakeholder in the world to coordinate pet care. In what is a highly privatised industry, our reliable service provides value to the entire sector, and we are growing at an incredible rate,” says FirstVet CEO and co-founder David Prien.
“We’re hugely excited to partner with OMERS Ventures as we have been actively looking for a partner which not only shares our core values but who can support our long-term vision to improve the animal care process for all stakeholders. Being the VC arm of the OMERS pension plan means that OMERS Ventures operates with a long-term vision of value creation, and has a fantastic track record in partnering to transform great companies into market influencers. Together we can continue implementing our ambitious plans while simultaneously improving the global veterinary industry.”
FirstVet is passionate about improving the vet industry, and holds a unique position in which it delivers value to all key stakeholders: pet owners, veterinarians, clinics, and insurance companies:
· For pet owners, FirstVet helps to reduce stress, time, and unnecessary travel and money. Opening hours fit around their busy lifestyles, while consultation rates are, on average, 60-70% cheaper than the starting fee for a physical veterinary consultation. FirstVet has a customer satisfaction rate of 99.4%.
· FirstVet presents a new, flexible, and well-compensated way of working for veterinarians, allowing them to meet pets in their home environment, and at times that fit around their own schedules.
· FirstVet acts as an increasingly important and natural supplement to clinics, which benefit from higher-quality referrals so that they can focus their care on pets that require urgent attention. Insurance companies are given insights into the care process and costs.
“At OMERS Ventures, we invest in and partner with the best and brightest entrepreneurs and teams in tech to build a prosperous future, so FirstVet is the perfect fit for us,” comments Henry Gladwyn, Principal at OMERS Ventures. “It’s rare for a startup to provide genuine value to the entire ecosystem in which it operates, with FirstVet quickly becoming an irreplaceable service for pet owners, and a trusted partner for vets, clinics, and insurance companies. FirstVet has ambitions to become the global leader in on-demand video veterinary appointments, and we are delighted to be on board to help them achieve this goal.”
“FirstVet’s success, evidenced by its fast growth and user love, is the result of the company’s ability to provide an exceptional and much-appreciated service to pet owners,” says Staffan Helgesson, General Partner at Creandum. “FirstVet is already conquering the Scandinavian and UK markets and we’re thrilled to continue to be part of their journey.”