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Introducing… Ben Sweeney, Founder of Vidivet

What was your life like before Vidivet?

I qualified as a vet back in 2008.

Seeing trends in the veterinary market, I set up my first business, Simply Locums, in 2016. This was a digital careers platform that I grew and sold in 2019.

Like all founders, my cogs started turning again and recognised the opportunity for a digital-first pet owner engagement which lay the foundations for what has become VidiVet.

Industry changes bring new opportunities

The veterinary industry has changed out of all recognition over the past 40 years. Back in 1980 90% of vets were male, today 82% are female. Many want their job to fit around a more flexible lifestyle, particularly if they are bringing up children. Increasingly vets and nurses want their job to suit them, rather than dictate to them. The days of James Herriot are largely gone forever!

What is also clear is that there is a shortage of vets and veterinary nurses to cater to the ever-increasing population of pets in the world.

As a result, the industry is having to adapt to new ways of working and offer more solutions that are customer centric.

So what does Vidivet offer?

In determining what Vidivet offers, we talked to a wide range of vets and pet owners to ensure that what we offered is absolutely in line with what both sides wanted.

The result was what we offer today-a genuine replacement alternative for google search that is personalised to people’s pets…

The opportunity for animal owners to ask any question about their pet at any time and get an instant personalised response AND to have digital appointments at a time that suits them. It is designed to reassure owners, to educate them and direct them to the right treatment where it is needed. It is more flexible and cheaper for owners in most instances.

The service gives us the opportunity to explain and educate what is needed to the owners of the animals.

Vidivet is a service that works in partnership with traditional practices, helping them with their workflow, so that they are only used where their real expertise is needed. If a visit is required, it enables both sides to plan and prepare for what is required, again, saving time and improving outcomes.

Pet owners have never been better supported than they are now and VidiVet gives them a reliable, easy way to engage with their pets’ health.

What problems and challenges did you encounter?

The veterinary profession tends to be traditional, with slow adoption of new alternatives for change. There is a generational split. But our aim was not to harm the industry. Far from it. It is an industry we love. Instead, we wanted to offer a solution for a profession that is responsive to the needs of its clients and to improve access to our expertise rather than a reliance on google searches and Facebook ‘experts’.

The biggest challenge was how to build a scalable business, but with the help of Nova, we are now achieving this.

Has Covid-19 had any significant impact on your development of the business?

If anything, Covid-19 has had a beneficial impact on the development of the business. People have become more digitally engaged and used to video communications. Vidivet has helped reduce face to face contacts and offers a more efficient use of time.

So how did you come across Nova?

Nova Cofoundrey Ltd (Nova) popped up on LinkedIn as a company looking for new ideas to invest in. This was just at the time when I was looking for both development finance and a sounding board for my ideas. I have extensive market expertise and experience, but recognised that we needed help in building a tech business. What really appealed about Nova was twofold. Their methodology that helped ensure that the service was really wanted before it was launched, and the expert tech support that they offered to build a scalable service.

The difference that Nova made

Nova was the perfect match for us. Nova Growth Capital Ltd provided the funding and Nova Cofoundrey Ltd the digital development, to build a robust and highly attractive service. That left me free to undertake detailed client research and build relationships with potential clients, leading to their appetite for the service.  

The future

Together we have built a service that is one that people want and is making veterinary services more accessible and efficient. We are looking forward to creating real growth and business scale over the months and years to come.

Nova’s view

‘We were attracted to Ben and his ideas because he clearly knew his market very well, understood the changes happening in it, and had identified opportunities arising from this. It has been a bonus that Covid-19 has encouraged both vets and their clients to use digital communications more.’

Click here for more information about Nova

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