Now that you have this COVID dog, Embark Veterinary wants to help him or her be in your life for a long time by offering DNA testing to help curb preventable diseases and increase dog lifespans by three years within the next decade to extend.
The Boston-based dog genetics company raised $ 75 million in Series B funding for what the company calls “the biggest Series B pet startup to date.” SoftBank Vision Fund 2 was the main investor and was supported by existing investors F-Prime Capital, SV Angel, Slow Ventures, Freestyle Capital and Third Kind Venture Capital.
According to Crunchbase data, the new round brings Embark’s total funding since the company’s inception in 2015 to $ 94.3 million. It also gives him a post-money valuation of $ 700 million, Embark founder and CEO Ryan Boyko told TechCrunch.
Boyko has been a dog lover all his life and was also interested in biology and evolution. Dogs in particular fascinate him with their diversity: they can be bred to two or 200 pounds and come in all shapes and sizes. His interest led him to study dogs to understand their evolution.
“I started thinking about health issues, and frankly, dogs are a better system for using genetics to improve their health than humans,” said Boyko. “You can breed them, so genetics have as much power to cause health problems as it can improve quality and life.”
Embark’s canine DNA test costs $ 199 and allows dog owners, breeders, and veterinarians to personalize care plans based on a dog’s unique genetic profile. It can be tested for over 350 breeds and 200 genetic health risks, as well as physical traits. Similar to a 23andMe test, test users can learn traits about race, health, and ancestry.
For example, the test could show that a healthy dog has a gene that makes them prone to herniated discs. If the dog did, weight management would be an important factor in their grooming, just as they would not be allowed to jump off the couch. Another common genetic risk is HUU, or hyperuricosuria, which is increased levels of uric acid in the urine that can lead to bladder stones due to the way dogs process minerals. Changing the dog’s diet could reduce the risk of developing the stones, which are painful and expensive to treat, Boyko said.
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The test’s technology revolves around a proprietary genotyping technology that analyzes more than 200,000 genetic markers, currently twice the information than any other canine DNA test on the market, Boyko said. This gives Embark the world’s largest database of dog health and biological information, which enables the company to provide insights into specific diseases and gain new insights into health risks, traits and breeds.
Embark is set to become the standard of care for dog owners and veterinarians. It grew 235% between 2019 and 2020 and has seen five times its sales in the past two years. To support this growth, the company intends to use the new funding to make important new hires and expand its database. Boyko expects to hire more than 100 employees between 2021 and 2022.
Boyko said the opportunities in pet startups are huge. According to the American Pet Products Association, U.S. pet spending reached nearly $ 100 billion in 2020, up from $ 95.7 billion in 2019.
At the same time, the share of venture capital in U.S. pet-focused companies, from nutrition to travel to healthcare, increased 29.5% between 2019 and 2020, according to Crunchbase data. In addition to funding Embark, 2021 has also been good for other pet startups, including animal insurance company Wagmo, which raised $ 12.5 million, affiliate pet collar company Fi, $ 30 million, and Rover, which announced plans to sell to the US via SPAC To go stock market.
Lydia Jett, partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers, told TechCrunch that this was her first pet-based investment in Value of Life.
Jett said the management team, dedicated to DNA-based analytics, is the future, and Embark begins that big turn when it comes to pets and the convergence of real emotional bonds with pets and the opportunity to improve their lives.
“This company is a driver of change,” she added. “We’re the largest consumer investor in the world, and Embark goes very well with what we see across our portfolio of consumers rethinking priorities and decisions. It’s an important trend, but it’s early in the personalization cycle for your pets. “