Piavita AG is an equine veterinary medtech startup that produces innovative remote monitoring equipment to aid veterinarians in their daily practice. Its goal is to reduce wasted time and replace old, manual processes with intelligent digital solutions. After 3.5 years in business and numerous accolades — including being ranked # 5 on Forbes’ list of most innovative DACH region AI startups in 2019 — Piavita is excited to announce that on Sunday, October 13th, it launched its next-generation cloud application, Piavet 2.0.
This major release encompasses updates to the web and mobile apps, measuring device, and base-station software. Piavita’s equine veterinary medtech system is now ready for whatever comes. But before we talk about the future, let’s look at where it all began, and what the ride has been like along the way.
Although Piavita has a solid foundation in the equine health industry, the Swiss startup wasn’t born in a barn. Rather, the technology behind its innovative veterinary assistant was initially a product of co-founder Sascha Bührle’s desire to improve the suspension specifications for his downhill mountain bike. He wanted a technology that could measure through layers of mud and dirt to better understand the terrain. So, like any good systems engineer, he developed his own solution.
When Sascha talked to his friend and former Bosch colleague Dorina Thiess about the technology, he mentioned that it could be further developed to precisely measure vital signs through the body’s layers. This was the light-bulb moment. Although they still didn’t know the exact industry they would bring the technology to, they knew they needed to start doing some testing.
During their first visit to an animal hospital, Dorina and Sascha witnessed the many manual processes in the daily lives of veterinarians — especially around routine, recurring vital-sign checks. From that point, they knew they needed to help bring digital innovation to veterinary care.
The choice to focus on the equine veterinary industry was relatively simple. Despite the fact that it’s a 300 billion-dollar global industry with little to no technological disruption, it came down to the nature of caring for horses. Unlike house pets who are usually with us all the time, horses spend many hours per day unsupervised, whether it’s overnight in their stalls or out in a pasture.
They’re also flight animals by nature. This means they will mask pain and injury until it’s unavoidably apparent. For domesticated horses, this means that by the time a person recognizes signs of pain, the problem may already be quite advanced. This is often the case with colic, a gastrointestinal disorder and the leading medical cause of death in horses.
Simply put, equine veterinarians needed a solution to remove the burden of manual, repetitive tasks so they could better focus on diagnosing and treating their patients. In response to this need, the newly formed Piavita worked to develop a wearable device for measuring equine vital signs. Soon after, the Piavet System was developed as a full-scale solution.
The three-component solution includes the wearable measuring device, wireless base station, and intelligent software platform. Together they’re used to measure, analyze, and view highly accurate medical data with no clipping or cords required. It provides real-time, non-invasive, remote access to equine patient vital signs, including ECG, heart rate, respiratory rate, activity, and body temperature using advanced sensors and machine-learning technology.
The Piavet Measuring Device is a small, durable device that is secured into the side of a comfortable belt that fits around the horse’s girth area. The roll-proof device allows the horse to move freely in a stall or pasture, all the while delivering valuable information to the vet.
The Piavet Base Station collects the device’s recordings and connects to the Piavet Cloud Application, which can be accessed on any internet-connected device. Data is securely transferred using 4G/LTE or Ethernet, making it accessible by vets whether they’re in the clinic or on the road.
The Piavet Platform is where the vet can see patient medical data, take evidence-based notes, and share data findings with colleagues. This data enables equine veterinarians to more efficiently and effectively treat their patients.
After co-founding Piavita together in March, 2016, CEO Dorina Thiess and CTO Sascha Bührle spent a full year in development followed by a year of trials, tests and studies at various clinics and stables. Since then, the user journey has provided Piavita with daily and weekly insights. As Dorina explained in an interview with Global Tech Box earlier this year, “There has never been a database of equine health data of this scope, because it simply was not possible [before] to record vital signs without influencing the horse.”
Needless to say, Piavita was forging new paths in a space that hadn’t seen this kind of technology before, despite it being commonplace in human healthcare. This means that Piavita’s customers and the data they recorded on their equine patients was extremely valuable and necessary for further improving the AI-powered product. “With every recording we get, the whole system gets better and stronger and more precise,” Dorina explained.
But this process of creating something disruptive and new meant that Piavita faced its share of challenges along the way. Limited resources and time, as well as the need to execute quickly under immense market pressure resulted in a fair number of obstacles. It’s because of this that Piavita values its customers so deeply. “We are so grateful to our dear clients who supported us all the way through numerous ups and downs, gave constant feedback and direction, and gave us the chance to continuously improve the product functionalities and experience,” Dorina said.
Despite these challenges, Piavita was always looking to the future and developing its product accordingly. And the startup world took notice. Piavita’s calendar of recognition over the past couple of years is a testament to its innovative work. It’s also a strong indication of the company’s ability to overcome obstacles and bring innovative solutions to a tech-laggard industry.
Among its many accolades, Piavita has landed on the Top 100 Swiss Startup Award list for three years running, impressively holding a spot in the Top 10 for the last two years. The company was also awarded the CTI Startup Label in 2017, and selected for the Venture Leaders Startup Team that same year.
But the company hasn’t only been recognized for its technological innovation. Under the creative direction of its CTO, Piavita received the 2019 Red Dot Design Award for its Piavet Measuring Device in two categories: medical devices and measuring devices.
In the media, Piavita was recently profiled by NZZFolio — the monthly magazine by Swiss daily newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung — in it’s September issue as a startup to watch.
Support from major players like Silicon Valley’s True Ventures and The Swiss Commission for Technology and Innovation (now Innosuisse) helped pave a path for Piavita, playing a huge role in the startup’s success. To date, the company has raised $9.5 million in funding. As True Ventures investor and partner Toni Schneider said in a 2018 Venturelab article, “We are excited to back the highly talented Piavita team in their mission to bring veterinary medical technology into the wearable, wireless, and prevention-focused future.”
This “future” everyone has been so excited about is finally here. The dedicated team at Piavita has been working tirelessly to bring a whole new system online. All components behind the scenes have been redeveloped from scratch to ensure future readiness, scalability, and flexibility for feature implementations.
The newly-released Piavet Cloud Application 2.0 comes with a host of improvements and new functionality, as well as the ability to interface with other digital software and service providers. Piavet 2.0 brings updates to some of the system’s foundational measurements, a new look and user experience, customizable features, targeted alerts, and automated reports.
Dorina, who was recently named a 2019 Digital Shaper by Swiss business magazine Bilanz, is looking forward to Piavita’s future in transforming the equine veterinary field. “The new platform brings broad improvements for further scaling our product and offers. We are now better equipped to continuously release updates and continue product improvements. The apps allow [vets] to check patient vitals on the go even better now so they can make the most of their valuable time. And our Piavet users can look forward to a much more fluid and interactive user experience. With data capture from hundreds of recordings taken simultaneously around the world, we can truly bring equine care forward.”