Streamlined Pet Health Data with Pawlytics

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Summary

The Pawlytics team has been selected as a “Deal to Watch” by KingsCrowd. This distinction is reserved for deals selected into the top 10%-20% of our due diligence funnel. If you have questions regarding our deal diligence and selection methodology, please reach out to hello@kingscrowd.com.

The Pawlytics founders are part of traditionally underrepresented groups in startup investing.

Problem

There are 3,500 animal shelters in the United States and 10,000 rescue groups and animal sanctuaries. Professionals at these organizations connect a tremendous amount of Americans with beloved pets each year. Each year, 3.2 million dogs and cats are adopted (out of the 6.5 million companion animals that enter shelters).  

 

Staff and volunteers at animal shelters have dramatically reduced the amount of animal euthanasia in the United States. Their hard work has made pet adoption more popular than ever. However, this increase in adoptions also means an increase of administrative labor for shelters. Animal shelters do not benefit from sophisticated software solutions that are present in most other modern industries. Many animal shelters often rely on legacy tools or even physical paperwork to track animal information and process adoptions. 

 

Moreover, there is no standardized medical record system for animal shelters and veterinary clinics. While some startups are attempting to solve this issue, there are still tens or even hundreds of millions of pets out there without health histories stored electronically. A lack of health records makes animal shelters’ and veterinarians’ jobs more difficult while also negatively impacting pets’ health. 

 

Pet owners and pet professionals alike demand a more modern system to store information. How can we elevate the pet industry’s workflows to match our modern software expectations?

Solution

Pawlytics intends to become the first database storing electronic health records (EHRs) for pets everywhere. The Pawlytics software suite will help animal shelters, veterinary clinics, pet insurance providers, and pet retailers access comprehensive data about every pet. This data will be stored according to the pet’s unique microchip ID number (akin to a Social Security number). 

 

Using Pawlytics, animal shelters and veterinary clinics can access a pet’s full health history with a simple record lookup. Immediate access to these records will save pet professionals countless hours of needless manual administration time. It will also ensure better health for pets via robust data on previous treatments. Beyond these core use cases, Pawlytics envisions that the platform will ultimately allow insurance providers to more accurately assess pets’ health risks. Additionally, it will give retailers better insight into the unique needs and life events of consumers’ pets. 

 

Pawlytics developed out of founder Lizz Whitacre’s previous organization, Family Pet Project. This organization sought to provide an alternative to animal shelters for families looking to rehome pets. As Family Pet Project wound down, Whitacre began conducting research with animal shelters and veterinarians to understand the key challenges facing pet professionals. Pawlytics was founded shortly thereafter. Since then, the company has received various small grants and participated in several accelerator programs. 

 

So far, Pawlytics has created records for 15,000 pets. The company was apparently a B2C company upon launch. Through that activity, Pawlytics generated roughly $35,000 in revenue in 2019, with a net loss of $26,973. The company is now pivoting to a B2B business model, which is now in market. Details on the recent financial success of that B2B program are not given.

The Team

Pawlytics was founded by Lizz Whitacre, a lifelong animal advocate who graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) in 2017. Whitacre began working with animals when she was a teenager, and subsequently led a no-kill animal advocacy club at UNL. She later founded Family Pet Project, an organization focused on rehoming unwanted pets. Family Pet Project later developed into Whitacre’s current company, Pawlytics. 

 

Sara Steinkruger is Pawlytics’ Chief Customer Officer. Steinkruger has more than five years of experience in marketing and customer success in insurance and healthcare. She focuses on developing new client partnerships for Pawlytics. The last member of the Pawlytics executive team, Justin Collier, is a part-time CTO. He is also a recent graduate of UNL and works as a Software Team Lead for Realm5 Agriculture outside of his work with Pawlytics. 

Growth Plan

Of the funds that Pawlytics raises on WeFunder, the largest portion will be devoted toward engineering and product development. The remainder of the capital will be used for admin, sales, marketing, and miscellaneous operational costs. 

 

Pawlytics does not give specific details about upcoming milestones on the company’s roadmap. However, it can be assumed that the current top priority is engineering and product development. The Pawlytics B2B software is still relatively new, so presumably the company is engineering additional features and functionality to better sell the product to animal shelters.

Why We Like it

  • Compelling business model serving a gap in the market: Pawlytics has discovered a critical need in the pet industry: software for shelters (and ultimately veterinary clinics, insurance providers, owners, etc.) to access a central source of truth on pet health and history. The company has also conducted extensive research to ensure that the product will match market demand. Pawlytics has established several relationships with animal shelters to kick off the compilation of this central database. The core concept and business model are well-suited for the problem the company is confronting.

  • Team experience in the space and user research: The Pawlytics team has a deep understanding of the animal shelter and pet care space due to CEO Lizz Whitacre’s decade of experience working with pet professionals. In addition, the Pawlytics team has conducted extensive user research to further assess the software needs of animal shelters and other stakeholders. This work helps guarantee that the software product will be designed to properly meet users’ needs. While Pawlytics is an early-stage company with little tangible proof of product-market fit, these facts indicate that the Pawlytics team has a head start in understanding how to sell their product to purchasers. 

Rating

The lack of standardized medical records and pet history among animal shelters and veterinary clinics is surprising and problematic. Pawlytics is well-positioned to fill that critical gap. The simplicity of Pawlytics’ proposed solution (storing all pet information in a centralized database according to the unique ID of microchip number) is elegant and compelling. That model alongside the team’s experience in the space is a good indicator of success. 

 

However, prospective investors should consider a few risks. First and most importantly, Pawlytics is a very early-stage company. It has only generated tens of thousands of dollars in revenue, much of that apparently under a prior business model. It is therefore difficult to predict with certainty whether Pawlytics can successfully capture market share. Second, Pawlytics’ success is highly dependent on the strength of its software platform. The company does not have a technical founder and admits that technical development will be expensive and difficult to resource given the particular language the backend is written in. Third, a centralized database solution like Pawlytics requires a critical mass of user adoption to be truly effective. The Pawlytics promise of a database for all pets only succeeds if virtually every animal shelter adopts Pawlytics. Therefore, Pawlytics could either win dominant market share or wither away if too few records are created. 

 

Moreover, Pawlytics’ exit potential is somewhat unclear. The B2B pet tech space is a niche one. It is very unlikely that Pawlytics can achieve size and widespread brand recognition necessary to IPO. Therefore, Pawlytics’ best hope of exit is via acquisition. Pawlytics exists because there is no leader in pet industry software at this time, which means there are few obvious acquirers. It is possible that giants in the overall pet industry, like Purina or Petco, might dip into B2B pet care to acquire Pawlytics. However, these possibilities are very uncertain given the lack of precedent in this space. 

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About: Katy Dolan

Katy is a marketing and research consultant to startups (including VC-backed companies, small businesses, and advocacy movements). With experience in tech, venture capital, politics, and non-profits, Katy partners with clients to strategize and execute compelling campaigns focused on user experience and empathetic narrative. Katy graduated cum laude from Harvard College with an AB in Sociology.

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