About Vet Innovations, Inc.
Vet Innovations is a New England-based, technology-driven pet products company focused on companion animal health, wellness, and nutrition. The Company employs multiple proprietary and patented technologies, including wearable technology for pets (“collarables”) consistent with current Internet of Things (IOT) product applications, and infrared (IR) and radio frequency identification (RFID) integrated into solutions-oriented products within key segments of the pet products industry. The company has developed a proprietary RFID technology, termed Pet Field Communications™ (PFC), which is incorporated into its flagship PortionPro Rx™ pet feeding system.
Vet Innovations’ core strategies involve the automatic sensing and identification of a specific animal or pet to enable that animal to successfully interact with electromechanical devices, as well as other special applications of this technology. These applications are initially focused on nutritional aspects of pet care, treatment of animal obesity and related wellness programs, and the proper feeding of prescription and therapeutic foods to pets in multi-pet homes.
Vet Innovations is focused on a singular mission: to dramatically improve the lives of pets, pet parents, and their veterinarians through groundbreaking, innovative technology centered on animal wellness. Vet Innovations has developed unique and proprietary technology that controls what pets can and cannot access in their day-to-day living. The system automatically senses and identifies specific pets, enabling them to individually interact with different devices in the world around them. The company’s focus is on robotic-based electromechanical technology that not only simplifies and improves the treatment of pet obesity, but also enhances overall pet wellness.
Robert LaRoche, President and CEO
Bob is a highly experienced executive who has successfully launched and grown numerous business ventures over the course of his career. After attending Vanderbilt University, Bob immediately gained core sales and marketing expertise while working for several of the most respected Fortune 500 companies. He led large regional sales and service operations for major equipment manufacturers, which enabled him to hone key skills in P&L management and general business operations.
A self-described “serial entrepreneur,” Bob acquired a small company in Boston and grew it into the largest provider of commercial copy/print vending equipment and services to public and academic libraries in the United States. He also acquired a small Conn. Harley-Davidson dealership, then immediately revamped and expanded operations which has gone on to become one of the largest dealerships in New England.
Bob has a passion for building businesses, and he credits his success to his ability to build highperforming teams, good instincts, and the knack for “connecting the dots” to understand the bigger picture. As CEO of Vet Innovations, Bob sees an exciting opportunity to bring unique, disruptive technology to common problems impeding companion animal wellness, thereby helping pets live longer, healthier lives.
Dave Jalbert, VP of Operations and Product Development
Dave is an expert in consumer product design and engineering who heads the product development effort at Vet Innovations. After earning a degree in mechanical engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, he quickly established himself in product development through his work at some of the largest and most successful consumer tool and appliance manufacturers, including Black & Decker, Stanley, and Shark/Ninja.
A gifted product innovator, Dave has led engineering and design efforts for small appliances and cordless/corded power tools manufactured all over the world. In addition to keeping current in product development skills, he has managed engineering groups of up to 70 people for large public to small private companies while also running his own product development consulting business. He holds more than 30 patents and patents pending across a wide range of consumer products. Dave is passionate about leveraging his deep experience to develop and design the unique access control devices that Vet Innovations will soon bring to market.
Troy Hexter, DVM, Chief Veterinary Officer
Dr. Hexter has been practicing companion animal medicine for more than 25 years, most of them at the Old Canal Veterinary Hospital in Plainville, CT. After growing up around animals and knowing from the time he was in grade school that he wanted to become a veterinarian, Troy earned his undergraduate and veterinary medicine degrees at The Ohio State University in his home town of Columbus, OH. His passion for animals led him to volunteer for a local veterinarian during high school, and he continued to work there through college. Upon graduation, he moved to Connecticut and spent a few years in private veterinary practice. He then took a position running the Animal Emergency Clinic in West Hartford, which provided new challenges and opportunities to improve his skills.
In practice, Dr. Hexter routinely sees situations where parents of multiple pets struggle with daily feeding regimens. But it was a near-tragic personal event that became the impetus for his role at Vet Innovations. A multiple-pet parent himself, Troy almost lost one of his six cats when her dramatic dietrelated weight loss initially went unnoticed. He fortunately intervened in time, and today Daisy is still with the Hexter family and doing well. This experience prompted him to begin the process of creating the Vet Innovations unique access control technology. Dr. Hexter is passionate about improving the care of animals by potentially solving the challenges of dietary management in the multi-pet home.
Eric Schreiber, Chief Marketing Officer
Eric Schreiber is an experienced animal health marketing professional with extensive, successful brand leadership assignments with both Pfizer and Wyeth. In these roles, Eric launched more than 10 new products while also managing significant in-line brands. His experience spans both US and ex-US markets, including Canada, Latin America, and the Asia-Pacific region. He also spent two years as Pfizer’s marketing director in the Canadian affiliate. As a marketer, Eric developed core skills in objective setting, strategic planning, positioning, segmentation/targeting, insights, agency team management, forecasting, pricing, packaging, and execution. In addition, he spent several years preparing global markets for new product launches and understands the requirements for success.
Eric spent six years working for leading healthcare advertising agencies as an executive leader, including key roles at Saatchi & Saatchi and Havas. In these positions, Eric developed core skills in creative development, strategic planning, multi-channel marketing campaign development, and how to best leverage the unique talents of the agency team. He worked closely with the brand leadership of companies such as Merck, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, and Biogen Idec to develop strategic brand communications and creative plans.
Eric has completed executive education in team building (Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University) and global brand positioning (Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania). He is a guest lecturer in marketing, advertising, and insights at Villanova School of Business, Villanova University.
Hy Vaupen, Chief Financial and Strategy Officer
Hy is the Founder and Managing Partner of Vaupen Financial Advisors. He has worked with rapidly growing public and private middle market companies in the United States, Latin America, and the Caribbean for over 35 years. Throughout his career, he has held positions in executive-level financial and operational management and financial consulting/advisory capacities. Hy is bilingual with fluency in English and Spanish, and he has experience working with international finance and global business transactions. His extensive financial experience and market relationships provide the basis for the firm to advise, structure, and secure a variety of financing and capital transactions for its clients, including senior lines of credit, subordinated debt, and various alternative forms of equity capital.
He has worked with middle market companies in more than 40 major industry categories, including aviation, technology, healthcare, food and beverages, consumer products, retail and wholesale distribution, financial services, manufacturing, media, and telecommunications. Hy has extensive experience with advising on and executing corporate acquisitions and divestitures; debt restructuring, workout, bankruptcy, and insolvency related matters; and the negotiating, structuring, and implementation of successful corporate turnarounds. He successfully led an operational and financial turnaround of a troubled $600 million publicly held aviation parts distribution company.
Prior to founding Vaupen Financial Advisors, Hy held senior executive management positions in leading South Florida firms such as Ernst & Whinney CPAs, Beverage Canners International, the GB Group, and Kellstrom Industries. Hy is a graduate of the University of Florida Fisher School of Accounting and has been an accountant in the State of Florida since 1979.
More than 90 million pets in the U.S. are overweight or obese, making weight the leading health threat to our nation’s companion animals today.
Sharp Increase in Obesity Rates
Data reported by Nationwide, the nation’s largest provider of pet health insurance, indicate that pet obesity is on the rise for the sixth consecutive year.
A whopping 58% of cats and 54% of dogs in the U.S. are classified as overweight or obese, according to 2015 research conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP). For cats, 30% are overweight, and an additional 28% are “clinically obese”—more than 30% above ideal weight. For dogs, 34% are overweight and an additional 20% are obese.
These statistics reflect an alarming increase in clinical obesity in recent years. According to APOP statistics, the obesity rate for cats climbed from 22% in 2009 to the current 28% (2015). During this same time frame, the obesity rate in dogs rose from 9% in 2009 to 20% in 2015.
Obesity Shortens Lives
Just as in humans, excessive fat in pets increases the risk of often-preventable health conditions. In a 2017 press release, Nationwide reported the top obesity-related conditions found in dogs and cats based on 585,000 insured pets:
Additionally, pet obesity has been linked with many forms of cancer and decreased life expectancy. APOP research bears this out—their findings indicate that the incidence of obesity decreases with age. The research shows that obesity is more common in young adult and early-senior-aged pets. This substantiates the theory that obesity increases medical problems and ultimately shortens lives. Heavier pets tend not to live as long as their slimmer counterparts.
Financial Costs of Obesity
In addition to taking a heavy toll on the health and well-being of pets, obesity brings a high monetary price tag. As an example, Nationwide recently reported 2015 statistics, shown in the table below. Keep in mind that these numbers reflect data from one insurer only—costs from other insurers and for the large number of uninsured pets is not included.
Move to Classify Pet Obesity as a Disease
In human medicine, the American Medical Association (AMA) officially classified obesity as a disease in 2013. Members of the APOP and other veterinary specialists are making a move to follow suit by requesting disease classification status for pet obesity.
The proposal may be presented to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) as early as summer of 2017. The group of specialists has also crafted a definition of pet obesity from a clinical point of view and is asking for a universal standardized body condition scoring system for pets.
As with human medicine, adoption of these standards could increase awareness among both veterinarians and pet parents and help veterinarians better identify, assess, and treat obesity.
Causes of Obesity
Multiple factors have been implicated as causes of the current pet obesity epidemic:
Controlling and Preventing Obesity
Steps that veterinarian/pet parent partners can take to prevent or reverse pet obesity: