With 2021 and renewed hope just around the corner, we can look back at what we learned this year and what we have to be thankful for, despite unbelievable odds. And although looking back at 2020 doesn’t exactly put a smile on everyone’s faces, Piavita CEO Dorina Thiess says she has a lot to be thankful for, and a clear audience for her gratitude.
Thankful is an understatement
The pandemic certainly put a damper on everyone’s spirits and hopes for what 2020 would bring. But it also gave our customers a clearer picture of the value of a digital, remote solution for health monitoring. For one, it showed how important it is to have alternative solutions to traditional, manual monitoring. And two, it expanded our use cases as more vets used it to keep tabs on outpatients and reduce control intervals for inpatients in isolation. We saw this value translate into gaining new customers, from smaller practices to university hospitals. And we were happy to still have the chance to visit customers and interested vets (with increased safety measures of course!) with some sales and support tours in both Europe and the US.
Piavet Loyalty Program
We also saw the introduction of the Piavet Loyalty Program, which rewards Piavet users with annual discounts for participation in the Piavet Community. This innovative program increases usage and value for the customer, and supports Piavita by encouraging vets to provide valuable feedback on desired features, collect data for certain projects, and provide insights via surveys that help us make the Piavet Solution everything our customer want it to be.
User Board and Vet Board
In 2020 we also introduced the Piavet User Board and Vet Board. As we are always seeking to maintain the Piavet Solution as a user-friendly system for our vets, these boards quickly became foundational to this effort. A dedicated group of veterinarians and vet techs participate in monthly surveys and provide targeted feedback that is evaluated and prioritized for product updates and development. This has ensured that we are always serving the interests of our users—present and future.
We have a lot to be thankful for despite the challenges, and one is the continued, unwavering support of our primary investment partner, True Ventures. Their—and our other dedicated investors’—continued faith in our mission helped drive us forward to keep innovating and releasing new features and updates to our platform. From big iOS releases in May and July to a large WebApp release in November, our product team was busier than ever. It also helped us keep the future in sight as we worked on projects to expand our offering and increase value for our customers in 2021.
Top 100 Swiss Start Up Award – 3rd place!
In early September, co-founders Dorina Thiess and Sascha Bührle stepped onto the main stage at Venturelab‘s TOP 100 Swiss Startup Award ceremony to accept the third place award for Piavita. They also took home the award for Best Startup in the MedTech Sector.
Considering the financial and logistical hurdles that startups like Piavita have struggled through since the onset of the pandemic—plus the fact that this award was a big jump up since Piavita’s 8th place ranking the previous year—it was a huge success for the whole team.
Interview with Dr. Dorina Thiess
The truth is that the financial crisis resulting from the pandemic this year sadly toppled a large number of startups—companies with promising technologies that may otherwise have thrived. But Piavita was able to keep galloping forward, and even had some major achievements. So we chatted with our CEO to get her thoughts on the hardest—albeit most successful—year the company has yet seen.
Q: What challenges did Piavita face in the early months of the pandemic, and what did you learn from them?
In March, we first realized the severity of the pandemic and our first action was to give all team members the opportunity to work from home. While we had already been operating as an internationally distributed and digital team before, the coordination and social interaction is still very different when everyone is at home. I miss meeting everyone in the offices, just hanging out for a quick coffee break, or loosing track of time in the evenings discussing and thinking about the next steps for Piavita!
On the market side, we soon realized that the usual on-site visits for demos, workshops, sales, and customer care became very limited due to the security measures being taken in equine hospitals and clinics. Luckily, we had already been planning to move more of our sales funnel digital, so the onset of the pandemic caused an unexpected and fast “trial by fire” in that regard.
Q: What major milestones and/or developments did Piavita achieve this year?
Sascha and I are really proud of our team and what they’ve accomplished this year even with all the challenges and disruptions. Among many things I probably am missing, I would say some of our top achievements this year were:
- Launching the Piavet app for iOS (in a very short time) with embracing functionalities to enable vets to be more mobile and better leverage remote monitoring
- Completing the first phase of research and data collection for our much anticipated Piabreed project, which we plan to announce in more detail in January. 😉 But hint hint, we hope to bring our automated foaling alert solution to a trial market in 2021.
- Fully keeping up sales and customer interaction remotely throughout the year
- A strong increase in usage of the Piavet System in the market
- Establishing our Piavet User and Vet Boards
- Huge product development success with added functionality throughout the year, as well as a big effort that will bring the fourth version of our cloud applications to the market soon, giving more functionality and automation possibilities to veterinarians.
- The introduction of a brand-new customer engagement program: The Piavet Loyalty Program
- Third place in the TOP 100 Swiss Startup Award and Best Startup in the MedTech Sector
Q: What was it like to win a major startup award this year?
The TOP100 Swiss Startup Award is a fantastic day every year in the startup scene. We get to meet so many of the other startups, investors, partners, etc.—many who have become close friends over time. When we were first selected for position 100 just one year after foundation, we couldn’t believe it. Looking at the many incredible and impressive ventures being created in Switzerland, we felt very honored and humbled. To be in the top three makes me speechless and very proud of what the PiaTeam has accomplished.
Q: How do you feel the veterinary industry’s collective mindset has (or has not) changed toward remote, digital technologies and telemonitoring in 2020?
In 2018/2019, the most prevalent topics at conferences was data, digitalisation, telehealth, etc. The discussions were more around: how can we move in that direction, what do we need for it, how long will it take? Speaking with large partners in the industry, the anticipation was that they will become more digital in 3-5 years. This year showed everyone: although it is not always easy, we can do it if we really want (or need) to. And I am relieved to see that many now praise the advantages, so I feel very strongly that this digitalisation shift is here to stay.
Q: What hopes do you have for Piavita and for the veterinary industry in 2021?
I am looking forward that Piavita will be coming out of this pandemic stronger, more digital, and more innovative than ever and so will the veterinary industry overall. We have a very strong team that can conquer almost anything and we have a lot of exciting things in the pipeline that we can’t wait to release as soon as we are all back to a more regular lifestyle. For the veterinary industry, this year has leveraged the cultural shift and openness towards new technical opportunities a lot, and this will boost tons of innovation and new insights into our furry friends.
Q: What message do you want to send to your customers in light of this past year?
I want to say thank you so so much for supporting us, sticking with us, and for the constant support in improving our products and services. And thank you for all the nice and powerful messages we’ve received—it means so much to have such wonderful partners and customers, and we will continue to work hard in 2021 to bring you even more value with our solutions.
Thank you, Piavet users, partners and customers
In 2020, we were reminded every day why we kept working toward a transformation in veterinary medicine despite all of the challenges: our customers and their patients. And the successes we’ve had can be largely attributed to these industry trailblazers, who were either very early adopters of our technology, or who became Piavet users amidst a global pandemic. So, thank you to our loyal and forward-thinking Piavet users. It is your dedication to your field, and your eye for the future that will ultimately bring a transformation in veterinary care. And we are so proud to call you our customers.
Wishing everyone a very safe and happy holiday season and a joyful start into what we hope will be a fruitful and hug-filled year for all!
The Piavita Team
At Piavita, we like happy vets and healthy horses. It’s that simple. Our mission is to transform veterinary care by providing remote health monitoring technology to the veterinary industry. With a non-invasive, sensor-enabled hardware device and sophisticated software platform, the Piavet Solution automates and digitizes repetitive, manual tasks to help vets save time and improve patient outcomes. We are a diverse group of engineers, developers, researchers, and horse people with a passion for delivering meaningful solutions to veterinarians. We operate in the US and Europe, with headquarters in Zürich, Switzerland. Have a question or suggestion? We’d love to hear from you.