Scheduling medical appointments is challenging enough for humans, so Otto, formerly TeleVet, wants to make it easy to, at the very least, care for our pets.
The veterinary software company offers a way for clinics to manage aspects of their operations, from schedule to after-hours triage to payments and digital prescription refills.
Its practice management system also integrates with platforms vets are already using, including Cornerstone, Neo and AVImark, so that data is complete and accurate. By doing all of that, Otto claims it can free up to eight hours each week for veterinary teams.
Zeynep Young, CEO of Otto, joined the company to succeed co-founder Steven Carter in December 2022. She tells TechCrunch that there has been a “huge explosion in the pet population,” however, at the same time, there is a decline in the number of veterinary clinics due in large part to burnout. Even if clinics add more people the problem won’t be solved without technology, she said.
“Historically, the veterinary industry has been a bit of a tech laggard and a sleepy industry from an innovation perspective,” Young said. “We’re seeing that really change, obviously. But there’s a lot of room for improvement in terms of helping clinics deal with the expectations of today’s client and to be able to deliver the best healthcare for pets in today’s environment.”
There’s where Young believes Otto comes in: by understanding the challenges clinics are facing and developing a tool that will help them succeed instead of disrupting what they do.
“14 tabs problem”
As I’ve noted previously, there is a growing list of startups, for example, Airvet, Digitail, The Vets, Dutch and Mixlab, working on solutions to help veterinarians. There has even been some recent M&A activity around it.
Young sees Otto differentiating itself from the pack by approaching clinics from a partnership standpoint, she said. Instead of throwing point solution after point solution at clinics, Otto aims to be an end solution.
“Clinics have what is affectionately known as the ‘14 tabs problem,’” Young said. “They’ve got 14 tabs open in front of them, and they’re trying to skip from one to the other to figure out how to follow an actual patient. That leads to some really thorny problems, like sending an appointment reminder to a pet that’s already been euthanized by the practice. And staff burnout from having to move from solution to solution, as well as disruptions in care and communication.”
That approach appears to be working: The company grew its customer base by 600% to over 8,000 new veterinary clinics and hospitals after adding more than 1,000 in the past year.
The company also saw the number of appointment no-shows among clinics cut in half and call volume reduced by about 70% as pet parents have been using the automated prompts for routine requests.
Meanwhile, Otto added several new features, including a communication platform, called Flow, that includes a payments tool, and Care membership plans.
Young declined to go into detail about Otto’s revenue growth, however, she did say that the company is “on track to be at a breakeven point by the end of 2025.”
A new name
Buoyed by the growth, the company is announcing $43 million in new Series B capital. Mercury Fund, which led the company’s $5 million Series A round in December 2022, is back to lead this new investment. Mercury was joined by existing investor Boehringer Ingelheim and new investor Hill’s Pet Nutrition. The new funding gives Otto $48 million in total venture-backed funding.
As part of the investment, Heath Butler, venture partner at Mercury Fund, will join Otto’s board of directors, and Nicki Baty, president and general manager of Hills US, will join as a board observer.
And in addition to the new investment, Otto, founded as TeleVet by Carter and Price Fallin, is unveiling its new name. When TeleVet was first launched, it was focused on equine health. Then the global pandemic hit and a portion of the product was able to be used for curbside checking and telemedicine.
Since then, TeleVet is associated with a very old functionality that Young said didn’t feel like it represented “the true innovation in the company.”
“We’ve moved beyond that,” she noted. “Otto is a name we love because much of our product is about automating those tedious tasks so your staff can focus on the best part of their job, which is to deliver healthcare. It’s friendly and approachable.”