The veterinary drug industry was $ 10.8 billion in 2020, growing 9.2% year over year. Since pet ownership has grown significantly during the pandemic, this market is only expected to continue growing. Over-the-counter and prescription drug sales through veterinary medicine account for 72% of total sales. Mixlab is a pet pharmacy platform that offers same-day (in New York or LA) or next-day (anywhere else) delivery of veterinary drugs. The drugs are tailored to consumption with flavorings (e.g. beef, bacon or marshmallow), flexible dosages depending on the size of the animal and different forms of administration (delicacies, liquids, gels, etc.).
AlleyWatch Co-founder and CEO caught up with Fred Dijols to learn about building the modern digital pet pharmacy experience, the company’s strategic plans, the latest round of financing that brings total equity funding to $ 30.5 million, and more.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
We completed a Series A fundraiser for $ 20 million. It was headed by Sonoma brands with the participation of insiders like Global Founders Capital, Monogram Capital, Lakehouse Ventures, Brand Foundry as well as other new investors.
Tell us about the product or service Mixlab offers.
Mixlab is a platform for animal pharmacies that offers both animal parents and veterinarians a pleasant experience.
We work with veterinarians to help them deliver medication more efficiently to their patients, track progress and compliance so they can focus on providing the best patient care possible.
Once a prescription is received, Mixlab will contact parents via SMS to schedule same or next day delivery. Pet parents enjoy a seamless experience with real-time updates and reminders. We go out of our way to make the entire experience as enjoyable as possible which is why we have received amazing feedback and ratings (5 stars on every platform!).
What inspired the start of Mixlab?
Working on JP Morgan’s healthcare banking team, I was at the point where I wanted to start something I felt passionate about. I’ve worked with some investors looking at some next generation human pharmacy models – companies like Capsule or Alto that are redefining the human pharmacy experience by adding technology to speed up the prescribing workflow and the overall patient experience a lot to do better.
However, during this time my pet was given chronic medication that I got from the local pharmacy. And so as not to sound like any founding cliché, I literally had the worst experience of my life buying something. And that something was absolutely critical to my buddy’s health. Then I realized that there was a real chance to redefine that experience similar to that of modern human gamers and come up with a solution that was focused on engaging pet parents, helping veterinarians, and providing the best of care to our best friends. That’s where I got together Stella Kim (Co-founder) and Vinnie Dam (Co-Founder) who added to my background and we started Mixlab.
How is Mixlab different?
We work hand in hand with veterinarians to improve their workflow and deliver an amazing customer experience to pet parents. With same-day deliveries in NYC and LA, next day elsewhere, care packages with new toys every time, clear and simple instructions, automatic refill reminders – we want to make it easy and bring joy in stressful times. A large part of our DNA also consists of making personalized drugs – compounds – that are made in the right dose, shape, and taste as needed. With a prescription from a veterinarian, we can make administering medication to pets a lot easier. For example, we can make bespoke beef-flavored treats, chicken-flavored liquids, or even transdermal gels that parents can rub on their pets’ ears.
What market is Mixlab targeting and how big is it?
We are aimed at all veterinarians and animal parents. The pet industry is growing rapidly and is projected to reach $ 275 billion by 2030, with veterinarians at its center.
What’s your business model?
We simply charge the pet owners for the medication when they order. We also have an automatic refill option for which we offer a discount.
How has COVID-19 affected business?
In the first few months there was some volatility in the supply chain and in the requirements of our customers. Due to the uncertainty during the shutdown, many animal parents took up their medication. When veterinary practices closed, home delivery orders skyrocketed.
Despite all of this, I can proudly say that our high level of service has remained unchanged. We haven’t closed a single day and have been able to deliver pet medication either the same day or the next for the duration of the pandemic.
How was the funding process?
We were very fortunate to meet with great interest from investors and were able to select the partner who would best contribute to the company’s growth. Keith Levy of Sonoma has a lot of experience running a successful veterinary affiliate business and has been a great partner. He was President of Royal Canin USA and previously CMO at Anheuser-Busch.
What were the biggest challenges in raising capital?
Raising capital while running a business is always a challenge. It was great to see the team strengthen and operate while I was busy figuring out how much we wanted to raise and who to work with.
What factors in your business made your investors write the check?
There are plenty of exciting tailwinds in the pet industry, with the market growing rapidly to nearly $ 300 billion in the years to come. We also do something different from other players, we focus on working with vets, we prescribe prescription drugs and we are vertically integrated. We have created a strong brand that resonates with customers, veterinarians and pet owners alike.
What advice can you give to companies in New York that don’t have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Now is definitely a good time to raise capital.
Where do you see the company in the near future?
We plan to hire some key executives and expand our technology, operations, and sales and marketing teams. We will also expand our footprint to meet national demand.
What’s your favorite outdoor restaurant in NYC
I am a huge fan of the Cote.