The pet medication industry was $10.8B in 2020, growing 9.2% year-over-year. With pet ownership surging during the pandemic, this market is only expected to continue growing. Veterinary sales of over-the-counter and prescription medications accounts for 72% of all sales. Mixlab is a veterinary pharmacy platform that offers same-day (in New York or LA) or next-day delivery (everywhere else) of pet medicine. The medications are tailored for consumption with flavoring (e.g. beef, bacon, or marshmallow), flexible dosages depending on the size of the animal, and various forms (treats, liquids, gels, etc).
AlleyWatch caught up with Cofounder and CEO Fred Dijols to learn more about building the modern digital pet pharmacy experience, the company’s strategic plans, latest round of funding, which brings the total equity funding raised to $30.5M, and much, much more.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
We closed a $20M Series A fundraise. It was led by Sonoma Brands with participation from insiders like Global Founders Capital, Monogram Capital, Lakehouse Ventures, Brand Foundry as well as other new investors.
Tell us about the product or service that Mixlab offers.
Mixlab is a veterinary pharmacy platform that creates a delightful experience for both pet parents and veterinarians.
We partner with veterinarians to help them more efficiently deliver medications for their patients, track progress, and therapy compliance, so they can focus on providing the best patient care possible.
As soon as a prescription is received, Mixlab contacts the parent via text to schedule same or next-day delivery. Pet parents enjoy a seamless experience with real-time updates and reminders. We go above and beyond to make the entire experience as delightful as possible, which is why we’ve received amazing feedback and reviews (5-star on every platform!).
I was working in J.P. Morgan’s healthcare banking team and I was at the point of wanting to start something I felt passionate about. I was working with some investors looking at some next-generation human pharmacy models – companies like Capsule or Alto who are redefining the human pharmacy experience by adding technology to speed up workflow for prescribers and just make the overall patient experience much better.
However, during that time, my pet was on chronic meds that I was getting from the local pharmacy. And not to sound like every founders’ cliche, but I literally had the worst experience of my life buying something. And that something was absolutely critical for my buddy’s health. I then realized that there was a real opportunity to redefine this experience, similarly to the modern human players, and create a solution that focused on delighting pet parents, helping veterinarians, and delivering the best care to our best friends. That’s when I teamed up with Stella Kim (cofounder) and Vinnie Dam (cofounder) who complemented my background and we started Mixlab.
How is Mixlab different?
We work hand-in-hand with veterinarians to improve their workflow and provide pet parents an amazing customer experience. With same-day deliveries in NYC and LA, next-day elsewhere, care packages with a new toy every time, clear and simple instructions, automated refill reminders – we aim to make it easy and bring joy at a time of stress. Also, a big part of our DNA is being able to make personalized medications – compounds – that are made on-demand in the right dose, form, and flavor. With a prescription from a veterinarian, we are able to make it much easier to administer medications to pets. For example, we can create custom beef-flavored treats, chicken-flavored liquids, or even transdermal gels that a parent can rub on their pets’ ears.
What market does Mixlab target and how big is it?
We target all veterinarians and pet parents. The Pet Care industry is rapidly growing and projected to reach $275B by 2030, with veterinarians at its core.
What’s your business model?
We simply charge pet parents for medications when they are ordered. We have an auto-refill option as well for which we offer a discount.
How has COVID-19 impacted the business??
During the first few months, there was some volatility with the supply chain and demands from our customers. With the uncertainty during the shutdown, many pet parents bulked up on their meds. Additionally, when vet practices closed, the home delivery orders skyrocketed.
With all of that said, I’m proud to say that our high level of service remained unchanged. We didn’t close down for a single day, and we still were able to deliver pet meds either same day or next day throughout the duration of the pandemic.
What was the funding process like?
We were quite fortunate to have received a lot of interest from investors and were able to choose the partner that would be best to help grow the business. Keith Levy at Sonoma has a ton of experience operating a successful veterinarian-partnered business and has been a great partner. He was President of Royal Canin USA and previously CMO at Anheuser-Busch.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
Raising capital while running a business is always challenging. It was great to see the team step up and operate while I was tied up figuring out how much we wanted to raise and who we wanted to partner with.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
There are many exciting tailwinds in the pet space, with the market growing rapidly to almost $300bn in the coming years. We’re also doing something a bit different from other players, being focused on partnering with veterinarians, delivering prescription medications, and being vertically integrated. We’ve created a strong brand that resonates with customers, veterinarians, and pet parents alike.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Now is definitely a good time to raise capital.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
We’re planning on hiring some key executives and expanding our technology, operations, and sales and marketing teams. We will also be expanding our footprint to meet the nationwide demand.
What’s your favorite outdoor dining restaurant in NYC
I’m a big fan of Cote.