MySimplePetLab, a pet health startup that sells home testing kits for dogs and cats, has received $5 million in Series A funding led by the Mars Inc. Companion Fund, the pet-tech-focused venture capital fund started by the pet food and pet health giant.
The tremendous increase in pet ownership during the pandemic has caused demand for veterinary and pet health services to skyrocket, and created opportunities for startups like MySimplePetLab that are looking to disrupt the pet wellness space.
The company, CEO and President Jen Hagness said, believes it has the potential to be a solution both for pet owners and overwhelmed vet clinics.
The veterinarian co-founders of MySimplePetLab, Hagness said, wanted to support “veterinarians and pet parents alike to really make access to high quality testing more simple and accessible.”
Cindy Cole, a veterinarian and a technical partner at the Mars Companion Fund, said the venture fund likes how MySimplePetLab solves current concerns of pet owners and vets.
“It addresses two problems,” Cole said. “It addresses the issue that a lot of younger people want to be very proactive about taking care of their pets, so they’re more interested in direct-to-consumer products, and being able to work outside the veterinarian, or in addition to the veterinarian,” she said.
In addition, the test kits can help the work flow issues and staff shortages currently challenging vet clinics, Cole said. “This is an opportunity to increase the efficiency of the vet clinic, as well as the care,” she said.
Mars, Inc, the confectionery, food, pet products and pet healthcare conglomerate, launched its $100 million Companion fund in 2018 to invest in innovation in the pet space. Mars is a leading manufacturer of pet food, and its Mars Veterinary Health division is a leading operator of animal hospitals and one the largest employers of veterinarians.
Two founding investors in MySimplePetLab, Jeff Cowan and Jeremy Friese, also participated in the $5 million Series A funding round led by the Companion Fund.
MySimplePetLab was founded in 2019 by two veterinarians, Dr. Dennis Chmiel and Dr. Nancy Willerton. Hagness, who joined the company in 2021 as CEO, has a background in launching and growing direct-to-consumer businesses.
The tests are designed to make it easier for pet owners to test for common ailments, and faster and easier for the pet owner, as well as their vet, groomer, or other pet care provider, to get the test results.
Customers can order at-home kits with instructions for collecting stool samples, or for swabbing ears and skin to check for infection, Urine tests will be available in the first quarter of next year. The samples are placed in prepaid mailing envelopes and sent to the MySimplePetLab laboratory in Denver. Test results are delivered by email and pet owners in addition to getting the test results, receive images showing what the microscopic analysis revealed.
The results are presented “both in consumer language and vet language, which is super unique relative to how the market does it today,” Agness said. “We like to think of ourselves as being a test and automation company. We’ve automated the way the testing is done, but also we automate the journey to get you the results, and ultimately the treatment, fast,” she said.
The average time to receive test results is three days, and customers have the option of overnight shipping or sample for next day results.
All of the test kits are priced at $99.99.
MySimplePetLabs hopes to drive sales through vet clinics as well as direct-to-consumer sales.
“There are just not enough appointments for the amount of dogs and cats we have in the market,” Hagness said. “So before you go in for your annual wellness visit, your urine and fecal kit will be sent out to your home. You will do those tests, and all those results are auto-shared with your vet. It saves the vet clinic time, it saves them labor, and ultimately it creates a better vet visit.”
Use of the at-home tests for routine tests and follow-ups , and MySimplePetLabs automated results sharing and customer messaging, can help clinics “see more patients on an annual basis, create better vet visits, and ultimately drive more revenue,” to the clinics, Hagness said.
The company also is seeing interest in the test kits from pet groomers and pet boarding businesses “as a way to streamline testing that they want done before animals come into their facilities,” Hagness aid.
While the kits currently are only sold online, through the MySimplePetLab website, as well as the Amazon
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“So we’re going to play in animal health and retail, which is pretty unique,” she said.
The company also plans to add wellness products and over-the-counter medications to its offerings in the future, Hagness said.