Hobnobbing with James Andrews from Felcana

posted by 11 months ago in Hobnobbing
James Andrews Felcana

So, what does Felcana do?

Felcana is an intelligent pet care start-up that gives pet owners, vets and insurers a mobile-first platform to track, monitor and understand their dogs’ or cats’ health. Founded by veterinarians, Felcana integrates state-of-the-art artificial intelligence, machine learning and veterinary expertise, to help predict, simplify and treat over 90% of health issues for dogs and cats.

Felcana’s technology supports pet care across three levels: helping to predict health problems and simplifying the pet-owner relationship, whilst using data to help treat health issues sooner. Felcana provides owners, insurers, vets and pets with a more personal, convenient and valuable experience.

What’s behind the business idea?

I’m a qualified veterinary surgeon and thought of Felcana whilst practicing. As a veterinarian, I identified how reliant vets were on pet owners’ observations to provide veterinary advice and triage.

A key challenge surfaced when asking for example, how often has Fido been drinking recently, or how long has Betsy the Westie been resting for since her operation, because pet owners can’t provide this information at an accurate level. Not only does this mean that veterinarians are forced to make assumption-based decisions, but it also limits the opportunities for vets to spot subtle changes in behaviours or habits and identify early signs of illness in dogs and cats who can’t voice how they feel.

Felcana was founded to help owners spot subtle changes in their pet’s health, activity or behaviour, giving vets the data, they need to make more accurate, timely diagnoses. Controlled via a mobile app, Felcana’s Digital Pet Health Platform integrates robust data science with artificial intelligence and veterinary expertise to track and monitor a dog or cat’s activity and behavioural patterns over time, to help owners understand what is ‘normal’ for their pet.

By helping owners to better understand their pet, Felcana provides an extra ‘safety net’ to pet owners, meaning that they only go to the vet when necessary. This frees up veterinarians’ time and resources for the animals that really need it – saving owners money in unnecessary bills. Clever stuff.

Was it hard becoming a business owner? How did you recruit your employees?

Becoming a business owner has been an amazing journey so far – we’ve had hurdles to overcome and achieved some significant milestones to date. We recently listed as the ‘most innovative dog tech start-up’ and ‘top 10 European pet start-up to watch in 2018’ and have received awards from Spark Design, Innovate UK and Pitch@Palace. This is hugely rewarding!

A key challenge along the way has been funding, since part of our platform is centred around hardware and electronics, we’ve relied heavily on receiving external financial support. Fortunately, we’ve raised over £445k of Innovate UK grants as well as Angel and institutional support.

On the hiring front, we don’t struggle to hire top performers since our pet-centric business model is very appealing to those who’d like to cuddle dogs during the day. With employees from Dyson, TomTom, MVF Global and INSEAD, we’ve built a world class team of experts in data science, engineering and design who have given us the technological capabilities to build Felcana’s digital integrated platform.

Was there a breakthrough moment?

Exhibiting at Crufts 2017 was a key moment for Felcana as it confirmed that there is a high level of consumer demand for products which help owners to track, monitor and understand their pet’s health. We can’t wait to exhibit at Crufts in March 2018 and showcase our array of intelligent pet care products!

How is the company doing?

So far so good! We’ve just completed Felcana Go’s production run, which is a huge milestone for us. We’ve been working on it over the past couple of years: from conducting invaluable market research with pet owners, to testing and optimizing our designs, features and durability. We’ve added an LED light to help pet owners during evening walks and we’ve miniaturised the product so it’s the lightest on the market. Placing our customers’ needs and pets’ welfare at the forefront of what we do, our expert team has been driven to make high quality, credible products that our customers will love and Felcana Go is a great example of this.

In November, Felcana unveiled the future of intelligent pet care to the veterinary community at the London Vet Show. We’ll be showcasing our Digital Pet Health Platform and array of intelligent pet care products and discussing piloting / collaboration opportunities. We’ve got music, freebies and pet tech health insights to share – we can’t wait!

Do you have any regrets? If so how did you over come them?

No regrets at all. Starting your own business is so rewarding. You need to become an expert across every function from strategy to legal. I don’t think I could return to being an employee again.

What makes you stand out from your competitors?

We’re more than just an activity tracker – we’re revolutionising the way that owners look after their pet’s health and we’re giving vets and industry players the data they need to augment current treatment approaches. Our USP is that we’re focused on health – founded by veterinarians with over 20 years’ experience, we know where the information gaps are, and we understand how digital tech can improve the efficiency of veterinary practices that have remained the same for decades.

Our products provide science-based, credible data on pet behaviours, activities and traits. We’re embedded in the veterinary community and we recently confirmed a 4-year collaboration with the world’s largest veterinary school, the Royal Veterinary College to support the continued research into pet traits and behaviours.

What is your definition of a positive customer experience?

We pride ourselves in building products that our customers love. It’s important to us that our products positively impact our users’ day-to-day life, providing an enhanced experience owning it than they would have without it.

We use NPS, a tool developed by a Bain & Company Fellow, Fred Reichheld, to monitor customer experience. It’s the best tool to use if implemented correctly. We also use NPS in the office to monitor employee satisfaction so that we can deliver a superb working environment.

You’re currently reaching out for investors, what do you plan to do when you have raised this funding?

Like everyone after a fundraise, we’ll hire additional talent, invest in the Felcana brand and push forward with new innovations.

If you could help a business now with a single piece of advice, what would it be?

Get comfortable with the inevitable uncertainty.

Finally, James what is your favourite biscuit?!

Does a Tunnock’s Teacake count?