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April 04, 2017

Petco acquires Philly digital startup PetCoach for virtual care

Business Pets
040417_Petcoachmain Source/PetCoach

PetCoach, an online service for pet parents, provides a range of advice and guidance on its virtual platform.

National pet retailer Petco has acquired Philadelphia-based digital services company PetCoach, one of a string of local startups pioneered or otherwise guided by co-founder and CEO Brock Weatherup, the companies announced Monday.

PetCoach offers a digital solution for pet parents seeking veterinary advice, providing access to experts who give personalized answers to health questions and concerns. The company's website maintains a forum of previous inquiries about various pet care topics and also allows pet owners to link their PetCoach accounts with their vets.

"We are thrilled to be joining a talented team and a leading company like Petco," Weatherup said in a statement. "Connecting even more pet parents and their pets to the personalized tools, resources, veterinarian advice and products they need is exciting."

Weatherup has been a force in Philadelphia's startup community, volunteering as president of Philly Startup Leaders and acting as an angel investor and mentor to local entrepreneurs, including PetCoach co-founder David Martin. One of his previous companies, online pet supply retailer Pet360, invested in PetCoach in 2014 after Pet360 had been acquired by PetSmart. Weatherup got involved when PetCoach was at the DreamIt Ventures accelerator in Austin. 

"He had a vision and knew that this was something big," Martin, a native of Madrid, told PhillyVoice. "He's always been supportive and really took us from an idea, to a startup, to a company, and then now getting attention from the big fish like Petco."

Martin saw the need for PetCoach while working for a Spanish pet food supplier. 

"Online advice was not often professional in the past," Martin said. "We wanted to create a place with individualized answers for the needs of pet owners. It gives them peace of mind knowing that they can get immediate answers to their questions, whether they're about nutrition, training or anything else." 

The company started primarily as a service for cat and dog owners and later branched out to exotics as new veterinary experts joined the online network. 

"Iguanas, snakes, rabbits," Martin said. "We once had someone with a penguin."

Terms of the Petco deal were not disclosed, but four members of the PetCoach team, including Weatherup and Martin, will immediately be relocating to San Diego. Weatherup will serve as Petco's executive vice president of strategic innovation and digital experience.

"Having had the opportunity to lead and build several startups, we are ready to bring the speed, innovation, competitiveness and scrappiness of entrepreneurialism to Petco, while leveraging their scale, infrastructure, resources and strong brand," Weatherup said. 

Martin added that while PetCoach already had users from around the world, joining Petco immediately gives the company access to a bigger audience, including Petco club members. 

"Nurturing powerful relationships for better lives together is at the heart of all we do," Petco CEO Brad Watson said in a statement. "As we continue evolving our value proposition – helping pet owners wherever and however they want to improve the health and well-being of their pet -- we believe that an entrepreneurial and digital leader of Brock's caliber will help Petco exceed the ever-changing digital expectations of the modern pet parent."