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Monday, Oct 2, 2023

Modern Animal Goes National

Culver City-based Modern Animal Inc., founded just four years ago as a membership-based veterinary clinic operator in Los Angeles, is now seeking to take its subscription model national and has hired two additional executives to guide that growth.

Late last month, Modern Animal announced that in the second half of next year it intends to open veterinary clinics in Houston, Denver, Phoenix, and Atlanta. The company now has six clinics in the Los Angeles area, five in the Bay Area, and two recent additions in Texas: one that launched last month in Dallas and one opening later this month in Austin. 

Modern Animal also announced two additions to its executive team to help with this national push: Christie Long as chief medical officer and Pei-Chin Wang as chief product officer.

For Modern Animal, the expansion will be a test of nationwide viability for its subscription-based approach to veterinary care. For decades, veterinary clinic operators – including locally-based giants VCA Inc. of Sawtelle and National Veterinary Associates of Agoura Hills – have operated on a mostly fee-for-service basis. VCA does offer memberships with unlimited exams and discounts on other services for frequent users, but that has not been the mainstay of its business.

Modern Animal was founded more than four years ago by Steve Eidelman, who created pet-tracking company Whistle Labs Inc., which was acquired in 2016 for $119 million by Mars Petcare. Eidelman’s vision was to offer a full suite of veterinary services using the latest telecommunications technology for an annual fee, which is now $199.

The company opened its first clinic in the Beverly Grove neighborhood of Los Angeles in 2019, and then opened several more clinics in the Los Angeles area. The pandemic gave Modern Animal a shot in the leg as millions of homebound Americans became first-time pet owners and had to turn to veterinary clinics to care for those pets.

In 2020 and 2021, Modern Animal raised $75 million in series A and series B rounds to fund expansion of its clinic network to other parts of Los Angeles and Orange counties, as well as the Bay Area. Last summer, the company closed a $75 million Series C round, bringing the total raised to $164 million.

The company is tapping into the Series C funds to fuel its current and planned clinic openings, both locally and nationally. 

“Our ultimate goal is to affect positive change in the veterinary industry and profession at scale,” Eidelman said in the announcement.

“I am confident that Dr. Long and Pei-Chin will provide us with the leadership we need to make a meaningful impact on the lives of pet owners, practitioners, and pets in these four new markets and beyond,” he added.

Long joined Modern Animal from Petco Health and Wellness Co. Inc.  in 2019 as part of the company’s founding team. According to the announcement, in recent months Long has advocated on behalf of Modern Animal for passage of state Assembly Bill 1399, which would legalize a veterinarian’s right to virtually render aid to pet patients without an in-person exam.

Wang joined Modern Animal after spending a decade building technology platforms with Google (parent company Alphabet Inc.), Redfin Corp., and Amazon.com Inc. She will focus on applying the latest technological innovations to Modern Animal’s membership platform.

Amidst this expansion drive, Modern Animal is apparently also expanding its business model beyond all-access memberships. According to its website, the company is beta-testing a “pay-as-you-go” model where it charges $80 per pet exam. This model is now available in some of its clinics as an additional option to the “all access” model.

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