The Petcare industry in South Korea is growing tremendously as more and more people opt for furry companions. An estimate suggests there are over 15 million pet owners in Korea. Also, the pet care industry is likely to grow at about 8.9% per annum in the next five years. The fast-growing sector attracts venture capital firms and investors to Korean startups developing innovative pet technology and products. Fitpet, a Korean startup dealing in pet healthcare recently announced it closed on its Seed B funding with a cumulative amount of $26 million, the largest among pet startups in Korea.
Fitpet had started its Series B funding in October 2020, and in June 2021, it got a Series B extension funding. The latest investment was led by existing investor Mirae Asset Capital, the second-largest shareholder of Fitpet. The Pet Care startup’s other investors are Premier Partners, LSK Investment, Samsung Venture Investment, LB Investment, and PNP Investment.
Pet service in health, hospital, insurance to treats
Fitpet’s mission is to help pet owners deal with pet health issues easily throughout the life stages of the furry companion. The startup has a Pet Healthcare Platform, that provides health management solutions for the entire life cycle of companion animals , from checking the symptoms of diseases, daily health management, treatment, veterinary clinics, routine check-up reminders, pet trainers, home test-kits, hospital bills and insurance claims. The easy to install Fitpet app also offers users discount deals, reward points, etc.
Fitpet’s flagship product is the easy-to-use and advanced mobile pet urine test kit, Ahead. While the offline urine test method uses a spectrometer, Fitpet’s Ahead Urine test uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to identify any unusual features in an uploaded photo of a pet’s urine. Ahead’s technology is built in a smartphone app with the basic operating theory of a spectroscope. Ahead can check ten health components such as Specific Gravity (SG or G), Occult blood, pH, and Nitrite with the urine samples of pets and indicate abnormal signs of diseases including diabetes, urolithiasis, kidney issues, liver disease, etc. Ahead has been certified as an official veterinary medical device by the Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency (APQA) in Korea.
Ahead was launched in 2018 and has gained immense popularity for its easy-to-use method. The startup subsequently launched ‘Ahead Balance,’ a hair test kit, and ‘Ahead Gene’ to test companion animals for genetic diseases with saliva.
Fitpet, another technology, ‘DETECT,’ is used to identify different dogs. The technology identifies pets through prints of their nose, which are unique in identification like human fingerprints. This solution helps pet owners find their lost pets easily, even if they don’t have an animal chip. The company signed up an agreement to implement its pet-identification solution with major Korean insurance companies, Samsung Insurance, and DB Insurance.
Fitpet has also expanded its business to online commerce through ‘Fitpet Mall,’ where more than 2,000 products are available, including health check-up kits, Fitpet products on dental care products, test kits that use hair and saliva, pet snacks, etc. Fitpet also has a veterinary hospital platform, ‘Find a hospital,’ and plans to launch the industry’s first pet insurance company in Korea.
A pet-tech company run by an animal loving team
Fitpet was founded in 2017 by a former Samsung SDS engineer, CEO Jay U, who got the idea for the startup when his pet dog fell sick. Like Jay U, the entire team of Fitpet is animal lovers and owns cats and dogs.
Fitpet is now leading in the pet healthcare industry, with revenue growth of over 1700% since its inception. In 2018, its revenue was $400,000, and in 2019, Fitpet recorded approximately $7 million. The company also signed up celebrity veterinarian Seol Chae-hyun, as an exclusive commercial model and expanded its product line. In the first half of 2020, its sales surpassed $7.4 million, and the total number of customers increased to over 250,000.
Fitpet was selected for the “Global ICT Future Unicorn Fostering (ICT GROWTH)” project by the Ministry of Science and ICT in Korea. It is also the first-ever pet-tech company chosen for the Tech Incubator Program for Startups (TIPS) by the Ministry of SMEs and Startups(MSS)
Besides domestic success, Fitpet is also keen on overseas business. It has started to export its companion animal urine test kit, Ahead, health functional foods, etc., to nine countries, including the USA, Singapore, and Indonesia. The company recorded overseas sales of over $1 million.
With the latest investment, the startup plans to accelerate the production and development of its mobile health check-up kits, e-commerce & hospital platform, and pet insurance. Fitpet also wants to solidify its plans to establish a pet insurance company planned for 2023.
Wangjae Lee, senior manager of the lead investor of Fitpet Mirae Asset Capital, told media, “Fitpet is expected to lead the expansion of the domestic pet market in the future as it forms a unique service and value chain in the rapidly growing pet business area. We anticipate that it will also be possible to enter overseas markets through this.”
Jay U (Koh Koh), CEO of Fitpet, said, “We want to lead the industry through disruptive innovation in the companion animal industry, where inefficiencies are rampant, and make this lead to qualitative growth in the overall companion animal industry.”
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