By: Sandra Desrochers
Veterinarians can rejoice. A new veterinary software application is revolutionizing the way veterinarians take care of their in-patients.
While working in various veterinary clinics for 10 years and enduring long hours of emergency shifts, inventor and emergency veterinarian Dr. Ivan Zakharenkov (aka Dr. Zak) recognized the challenges that come with managing patients that are staying in the hospital.
Dr. Zak partnered with Chief Technology Officer Pavel Goncharenko to develop a tablet-based application which provides vet clinics with around-the-clock control of patients’ treatment, enhanced in-patient care, minimized human error and increased revenue. Veterinarium Corporation was formed to bring Dr. Zak’s novel idea for his “Smart Flow Sheet” to commercialization.
To make the leap from idea to business, Dr. Zak enrolled in VentureStart to get the mentoring he needed to start his own company. Offered through Mississauga’s Research Innovation Commercialization Centre (Altitude Accelerator), VentureStart is funded by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario). VentureStart received $7.5 million in funding through FedDev Ontario’s Scientists and Engineers in Business (SEB) initiative. The program provides emerging entrepreneurs in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields with training, mentoring and seed financing to develop their ideas, commercialize their products and grow their companies.
“I’m pleased with our government’s commitment to creating jobs and opportunities in Mississauga,” said Wladyslaw Lizon, Member of Parliament for Mississauga East-Cooksville. “By assisting small businesses and entrepreneurs such as Veterinarium Corp as they bring forward innovative business solutions, we are supporting new business development and creating skilled jobs in our community.”
Through FedDev Ontario’s support, VentureStart is helping program participants like Zakharenkov increase their business and management skills and their capacity to create successful companies and career opportunities. The program is delivered through 13 provincially funded Regional Innovation Centres in southern Ontario.
To get started, Dr. Zak completed the VentureStart online training. “I’ve taken similar courses in the past, but this one convinced me that I should change my entire business model, so I’m glad I went through the process,” said Dr. Zak. He then received mentoring from James Sbrolla, Veterinarium’s assigned Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) at Mississauga’s Altitude Accelerator. Advisors like Sbrolla draw upon their extensive business experience and expertise to help new entrepreneurs navigate through the process of commercialization.
“From day one, I knew James was someone I could trust with decisions about my company,” Said Dr. Zak. “I wanted to get his opinion on every step of the process. With his help, I achieved much more than I would have on my own.” John McDonald, another Altitude Accelerator advisor helped Dr. Zak change his business plan’s revenue model, enabling Veterinarium to get to the commercialization stage.
“We had to acquire knowledge in almost of every aspect of business development, including design, sales, marketing and product development,” said Dr. Zak. “Without mentorship, we would still be at the ‘big dream’ stage, without a chance for success.”
The founder also received VentureStart funding, which enabled the new company to hire staff with the necessary skills for research and development. The funding stretched their financing another four months, taking the veterinary software from BETA version to a product ready for commercialization.
The comprehensive “Smart Flow Sheet” was developed as a tablet-based solution to improve on the existing paper-based system, which can’t keep up with patient care in the hospital. “Due to the back-log in paperwork, animals might miss their medications,” said Dr. Zak. “Clinics are losing money for not treating an animal or treating an animal and not billing for it.” Veterinarium’s system provides users with automatic reminders; creates legal medical records; and handles billings for treatments. Veterinarians can save up to $24,000 a year by optimizing their workflow with this system.
The start-up has recorded a promotional video outlining its business overview and Veterinarium was selected as a finalist at RIC’s 2013 Innovator Idol Contest (a hybrid of Dragon’s Den and American Idol). Dr. Zak is now working on establishing a partner channel collaboration plan with major players on the market in the veterinary industry.
Veterinarium has several business models within their product, all benefitting different segments of the pet care industry. And, veterinarians are embracing Dr. Zak’s invention. Within four months, the BETA version of their product had hundreds of users in 42 countries.