A startup veterinary group with a familiar name wants to offer comprehensive wellness for pets in new ways.
As millennials begin to flex their purchasing power as pet parents, the race is on among veterinary service providers to capture more of that spend.
Heart + Paw, a startup veterinary clinic chain headed by former Banfield Pet Hospital President and CEO Vincent Bradley, is making its move in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions with its integrated petcare model. The company is rolling out locations offering a blend of veterinary care, boarding, daycare, grooming, retail sales, and community experiences, as well as a digital component, in a bid to be “a destination for pets and their parents.”
Heart + Paw opened its first center in June 2019 and has significant national growth plans, with an initial focus on the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. Its business plan includes $100 million in financial backing from the private equity firm Waud Capital Partners.
Veterinary Advantage spoke with Bradley about the dynamics of integrated petcare, the company’s growth plans, and the importance of partnerships within the industry.
Veterinary Advantage: Can you talk about the integrated experience of pet care you hope to deliver for pets and pet owners? How will this look digitally? What innovative ways will you interact with customers?
Vincent Bradley: At Heart + Paw, we have a tremendous advantage – we bring experience along with a fresh point of view on how to deliver the best care to our four-legged children. We started our company with a blank slate, so we’re not tied to any legacy or existing systems or barriers as we build the future. We’ve looked at every challenge from a fresh perspective and asked, “how can we reimagine this?”
Pets have become our first-born children, and we are serving pets and their parents in a completely reimagined environment with low-stress design and innovative systems. Our elevated and integrated service offerings include a full-service general practice veterinary hospital, grooming, daycare, curated retail, and in some locations, boarding. Our digital systems allow us to seamlessly connect with our consumers and optimize the care we provide across all of our services. We are also enabling them to take their pet’s care into their own hands through our app, where they can easily book services, chat with their vet and access their records.
In addition to our branded de novo centers, we are also seeking to partner with like-minded practice owners who are looking to add services and/or incorporate leading-edge technology to the legacy they have already established. Our goal is to acquire practices eager to build together to create a unique veterinary community seeking to better meet the demands of today’s pets and parents.
Collectively, we are reimagining petcare across branded de novos and acquisitions to better serve the needs of pets and parents at scale.
Veterinary Advantage: Describe your growth plans. Why did you decide to have the initial focus in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions? What are your goals for national growth?
Bradley: More and more millennials and millennial-minded people are seeking community in urban locations and suburban lifestyle centers. By starting in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic we’ve positioned ourselves to easily access several major metropolitan areas and launch a completely new brand experience.
Over the next five years, we plan to open and acquire a combined 200+ locations. The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions have tremendous population density, high pet ownership, and receptivity to elevated brands like Heart + Paw. We certainly believe Heart + Paw has national appeal and plan to expand into new geographies over time.
Veterinary Advantage: How will Heart + Paw clinics be unique in the local markets?
Bradley: We have a two-pronged approach with our branded de novos and acquired partners.
For our de novo branded centers, we have intentionally redefined a novel brand dedicated to being immersed in each unique local community with a commitment to be a vital and evolving part of that local market, coined ‘Local at Scale’. We believe that being hyper-local is an important way to deliver on sustainability – both in avoiding extensive global shipping and sustaining businesses in our backyard in the wake of globalization.
Our spaces celebrate creatives and provide opportunities to become heroes at scale by highlighting local artists and designers in our brick and mortar locations through murals/artwork, furniture, and custom lighting. ‘Local at Scale’ means transparent dealings with our vendors, helping craft fair and mutually beneficial contracts that help us scale together. Our projected growth and dedication to local at scale means we create jobs at both our pet centers and at the small businesses we partner with.
This concept extends from our space design to our retail mix. We want to be a destination to discover the best of what’s new in pet care and elevate local makers, as well as collaborations with some of our favorite startups that are translating their human care products for the needs of dogs and cats. We believe it’s not just good design and good for neighborhoods, but also good business and are excited to prove our concept at scale.
We have also empowered our partner veterinarians, center directors, and the entire pet care team in an unprecedented way to shape our brand locally by implementing our collective vision and strategy in synergy with their unique passions and interests along with the wants and needs of their local community.
For our acquired centers, we will introduce the novel brand characteristics of Heart + Paw in an authentic manner tailored to each acquired center. Together we will partner to bring the features that make sense to enhance what has been created in the past and entice the local community with the future potential of the practice. We believe our brand’s partnership will support the growth and evolution of practices seeking to connect with the evolving demands of pet parents.
Veterinary Advantage: How are your external partnerships important to your strategic plan?
Bradley: Simply put, it would have been incredibly difficult to launch our elevated brand into the marketplace without their commitment and partnership. We have formalized multiple agreements, and without exception, our partners have truly bought into our vision, our team, and our growth plans and were willing to invest in our collective future. Our commitment to being partners in pet parenthood extends beyond our consumer and into our strategic partnerships, and we are thrilled to have the support of our partners as we reimagine petcare.
Local at scale
Heart + Paw believes that being hyper-local is an important way to deliver on sustainability. Local artists and designers will be highlighted in the brick and mortar locations through murals/artwork, furniture, and custom lighting. “‘Local at Scale’ means transparent dealings with our vendors, helping craft fair and mutually beneficial contracts that help us scale together,” said Vincent Bradley, CEO. “Our projected growth and dedication to local at scale means we create jobs at both our pet centers and at the small businesses we partner with.”
Heart + Paw’s service offerings include:
- A full-service general practice veterinary hospital
- Curated retail
- Boarding (in some locations)
Through Heart + Paw’s app, consumers can book services, chat with their vet and access their records.