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[Korean Startup Interview] Dr.Tail: Revolutionizing US Pet Care with AI-Based Vet Consultations

2023-12-14 5 min read


[Korean Startup Interview] Dr.Tail: Revolutionizing US Pet Care with AI-Based Vet Consultations

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Dr.Tail is a startup operating an AI-based veterinary consultation platform in the United States, the world’s largest pet market. Dr.Tail addresses the growing number of pet owners in the U.S. faced with a shortage of veterinarians, making it difficult to obtain medical treatment, and the poor accessibility to animal hospitals. The company offers online consultation services to mitigate these issues.

Despite being a Korean startup, Dr.Tail has carved a niche in the U.S., leveraging innovative technology to automatically synchronize medical records from hospitals for quick and accurate consultations. The service is acclaimed for reducing unnecessary hospital visits and enabling easy monitoring of pets’ health status. Additionally, Dr.Tail anticipates expanding its business into health food and pet supplies by recommending products and services tailored to pets’ health needs.

Founded in 2020 with the vision of ‘initiating a new veterinary care system starting with zeroth-level care,’ Dr.Tail is driven by a team of experts, including CEO Lee Dae-Hwa.

Selected for the ‘Global Venture Incubation Program’ by Daegu Creative Economy Innovation Center and Plug and Play Korea, Dr.Tail aims to strengthen its business model in the U.S. market. The company plans to expand into B2B services and bolster its competitiveness through this program.

CEO Lee Dae-Hwa of Dr.Tail commented, “The current market presents challenges with inconvenient hospital reservations and cost burdens. Our online veterinary consultation service seeks to effectively address these issues. Utilizing medical cloud technology, a pre-consultation system, and AI veterinarians, we aim to provide quicker, more precise consultations and evolve into personalized care services based on the health data we accumulate.”

What problem is Dr.Tail attempting to solve? 

In the U.S., the world’s largest pet market, the rapid increase in pet owners contrasts with a shortage of veterinarians, making medical treatment difficult to access. Also, the limited accessibility to animal hospitals often necessitates booking appointments weeks in advance. In cases where pets suddenly exhibit abnormal symptoms, owners are compelled to visit emergency veterinary clinics, but 76% of these visits are unnecessary. Owners often struggle to discern when medical attention is needed, leading to an average expenditure of over $800.

How does Dr.Tail approach this problem? 

Dr.Tail operates an online veterinary consultation service in the U.S. to assist in determining whether a pet showing abnormal symptoms requires medical treatment. The service identifies cases that can be resolved with general medication or care as ‘zeroth-level care,’ consulting in these situations with veterinarians, especially those resuming their careers after breaks for pregnancy or childbirth.

What technological advantages does Dr.Tail have over its competitors? 

Dr.Tail’s competitive edge consists of four key elements: a cloud technology that retrieves any medical record from any animal hospital via an app, an advanced pre-consultation system to help accurately assess a pet’s health, an AI veterinarian that learns from past consultations to provide quicker responses, and comprehensive pet lifecycle medical data. Of these, the medical cloud technology is the most crucial, enabling faster and more accurate consultations than competitors.

For instance, consider a scenario where only a photo of a pet’s bloody urine is available. While competitors might struggle to accurately diagnose the cause—be it urinary stones, menstrual blood, or cancer—Dr.Tail can reference the pet’s previous medical history to more accurately determine if it’s a recurrence of urinary stones.

What services does Dr.Tail provide? 

Pet owners can enter information from their usual veterinary clinic to automatically sync all medical records to the app. When their pet exhibits abnormal symptoms, they can utilize a pre-consultation tool to submit questions via messages. An online veterinarian then assesses whether a clinic visit is necessary and recommends products or services for home solutions, if applicable.

Who are Dr.Tail’s target market and ideal customers? 

Dr.Tail primarily targets novice pet owners who have recently adopted pets and have numerous questions, as well as those with pets suffering from chronic illnesses requiring continuous veterinary consultation.

What is Dr.Tail’s business model? 

For a monthly subscription fee of $19.99, pet owners have unlimited access to consultations with veterinarians. Post-consultation, Dr.Tail recommends necessary products and services, earning a 15% commission from suppliers. The company also provides anonymized data to insurance and pharmaceutical companies, and research institutions.

What are Dr.Tail’s notable achievements? 

Dr.Tail has been awarded the main prize at the iF Design Award 2021, one of the top three global design awards; an Innovation Award at CES 2022, the largest electronics and IT conference globally; and was selected as the only Korean startup in the TOP 100 at SLUSH 2022, a premier global startup conference, finishing 23rd worldwide. Nationally, Dr.Tail has been recognized for outstanding technology, receiving awards from the National Assembly Standing Committee and the Ministry of Industry. The company holds eight patents both domestically and internationally.

What is Dr.Tail’s competitive edge? 

Dr.Tail is a team dedicated to achieving goals, working persistently with the right people to establish a new veterinary care system beginning with zeroth-level care. We are committed to transforming the world with our vision and persistence.

Why should we receive investment? 

The current market faces challenges with hospital reservations and associated costs, which our online veterinary consultation service effectively addresses. This market trend alongside our solution demonstrates high investment potential. We are poised to expand into tailored care services based on our medical cloud technology, pre-consultation system, AI veterinarian expertise, and the health data we’ve collected.

How is this program aiding in international expansion? 

While we initially started in the U.S., this program is facilitating our expansion from targeting B2C individual customers to providing our consultation services as a part of corporate wellness, enabling a shift to a B2B model.

What are the key supports and challenges faced by Dr.Tail in its global expansion efforts? 

Dr.Tail is set to expand its reach in North America next year through a partnership with Samsung Electronics, offering online veterinary telehealth services (excluding medicine) via smart TVs. A critical need for us is finding partner veterinary organizations or relief vet groups to embark on this journey with us. Our immediate challenge lies in establishing fruitful partnerships, and we eagerly anticipate the participation of numerous veterinarians.

How did the Silicon Valley program contribute to your global expansion? 

The program provided us with valuable opportunities to connect with various pet health tech startups interested in implementing Dr.Tail’s consultation services. A significant encounter was with a company specializing in wearable devices; we discussed how their technology could detect health issues, which could then be addressed through consultations provided by Dr.Tail.

Did you achieve any significant milestones through the Silicon Valley program? 

As previously mentioned, the program enabled us to engage in extensive business discussions with a wide array of investors and industry stakeholders.

[Korean Startup Interview]

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