Not many tech entrepreneurs will tell you their total addressable market comprises 47 potential clients, but Ivan Zak states the number unequivocally – and five of them are already his customers.
He adds, of course, that the total addressable market will grow as his company Veterinary Integration Solutions enters new verticals.
Saint John-based VIS has developed methodology and software that work together to help the consolidation of veterinary clinics. Its system gives growing chains of veterinary clinics the analytics they need to improve operations and make life easier for their vets.
“We’re trying to improve the business of consolidation but our whole mission, in terms of social enterprise, is we’re trying to reduce burnout and suicide in the veterinary domain,” said Zak in an interview.
A graduate of the Atlantic Veterinary College in Charlottetown, Zak in 2012 founded SmartFlow, which produced software that helped 600 veterinary clinics organize their workflow. He sold the company in 2018 to Westbrook, Maine-based Idexx, a Fortune 500 company that specializes in software for vets.
Zak came back last year with a new company to assist in the rapid consolidation of the industry, in which a handful of big players are buying up smaller clinics. He estimates the market of 32,000 clinics is about 20 percent consolidated, whereas the industry in Europe is about 60 percent consolidated.
Being a veterinarian, Zak has seen that a huge problem within his profession is burnout by the vets whose practices are bought out. These professionals have to adjust to the demands of working for larger companies with unfamiliar procedures, and their burnout rate is high, said Zak. Many leave the profession.
This creates a huge pain point for the consolidators, which are paying to acquire a team of professionals only to lose key personnel after takeovers.
VIS addresses this problem by using data analytics to help front-line staff improve their operations with the aim of reducing their stress and improving productivity. The system processes the data to produce key performance indicators. It provides professionals with a dashboard that allows them to view these KPIs and review performance through business analytics.
Zak said in the interview that VIS has identified 47 “consolidators” in the North American veterinary industry that are backed by private equity investors, which finance their acquisitions. Five of these consolidators are now customers of the company, and Zak said the venture has complete engagement with two. These clients now account for about $700,000 in revenue, he said.
While acknowledging the tragedy of COVID-19, he said the pandemic has actually benefited the industry.
“Veterinary medicine is immune to COVID because it’s one of the few industries that went up through the pandemic and there are higher numbers than before,” he said. “People are at home and notice more about their pets and are more concerned about their well being.”
So far, Zak has been bootstrapping but has still managed to grow the team to about 20 people. The company is based in Atlantic Canada, but the team stretches all the way to Zak’s native Ukraine. He expects to add about 20 more employees in the coming year.
He also believes that the VIS system can benefit other industries like physiotherapy or dentistry, which are also undergoing consolidation.