Advisers Answer: High-Tech Startup COO Jerry King Talks Resources, Future of Veterinary Healthcare Technology

Jerry King, Chief Operating Officer of Vets First Choice and Founders Workbench advisory board member, talks about what’s happening in the startup markets and resources founders should know about in a Q&A with Founders Workbench.

Jerry has more than 30 years of experience bringing new software products and services to market, in both venture-backed and corporate environments. Before Vets First Choice, Jerry served as the COO at Where Inc., where he managed the company from start-up to profitability to acquisition by eBay, Inc. in 2011.

Vets First Choice is a prescription management system for veterinarians and pet owners that is committed to helping veterinarians use the latest technologies to better manage patient prescriptions, practice inventory, and overall client communications for improved patient care and financial results.

Q: What space/business models do you see emerging as the most interesting start-ups? What do you see a need for?

A: We have not seen the last of healthcare / life science startups. For example, innovations surrounding human healthcare and the life sciences are now starting to migrate into veterinary healthcare.

Vets First Choice is focused on prescription management, but we also see several start-ups focused on client communications, like when your dentist sends you reminders for your appointments or push notifications from an app to remind you to check your blood pressure.

We are also seeing some interesting developments at the data and analytics end of the healthcare spectrum. For example, a core function of our [Vets First Choice’s] platform is the ability for pet owners to purchase medications and supplements from their veterinarian via an online store front. We can then review prescription and order data and analyze that information to determine the need for future orders and/or services. Consider that most pet owners usually make a vet appointment to renew a prescription. We can schedule future home deliveries of medications automatically and provide a secure means for pet owners to interact with their veterinarian through the Vets First Choice platform. This saves time and money for everyone involved! With these types of services, we’re also able to provide our veterinarian customers a complete picture of a pet who has been on medication for a particular health issue and help improve compliance, as well as analyze healthcare outcomes across populations of pets. 

Another trend that is really hot right now is the social startup, the startup with a strong social purpose. It’s an interesting emerging market, with startups on social missions; it’s almost an entirely different ecosystem.

My current favorite is called SEEDS, which is a mobile game plug-in that targets the vast majority of app users who are not interested in spending money on the game, inspiring them to spend through social good. So if an in-app purchase is $10, the app store takes $3, $2 goes to social good (a microloan), $1 goes to Seeds, and $4 goes to the developer from the newly converted user. After the payment barrier is broken, users go on to spend an average of $25. Everyone benefits!

Q: What are important resources that startups may not be aware of?

A: It’s amazing how the startup community has grown in the past decade. There are now eco-systems of startups, business supported organizations, and local/regional community initiatives that provide a wide variety of services to other startups. For example, with products and services like Founders Workbench, startups have easy access to training, education, and a community of other founders.

It is also clear that the menu of services available in start-up hubs like San Francisco, Boston, and New York is now being replicated by other cities across the country. Not to mention globally. There seems to be clear recognition that investments in innovation lead to growth in local economies.

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