Startups & Business

Metamorphosis’s Brock Weatherup Sees a New Shape of Pet Care Post-COVID

Brock Weatherup has been leading the pet care industry long enough to see it from every perspective

Jul, 31 2020

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Brock Weatherup has been leading the pet care industry long enough to see it from every perspective: consumer advocate, company owner, corporate executive, and capital investor. As COVID-19 continues to reshape the pet care landscape, he’s better positioned than most to chart its new terrain. The CEO of Metamorphosis Partners, a digital tech-focused pet care investment firm, shared his thoughts on which changes are temporary, ongoing, or permanent.

One question guides the next big thing in pet care

Weatherup says one thing that hasn’t changed since the pandemic began is the fundamental premise of pet care: “How are you making pet ownership easier and healthier?” remains its driving question. 

If anything, the answers become more important as people spend more time with pets in an increasingly distressing world. He sees anxious households curling up more often with the family dog, and the boom in urban-area adoptions around the beginning of quarantine backs him up. “They relax us, they chill us out, they give us endless love…all these things that make stressful situations easier, animals really help you with.”

In a chaotic world, people seek out optimism

That, he says, will translate into specialized purchasing as people identify more with their animals and want to show their appreciation. Trendy activities, lavishing pets with pampering treats and toys, and accessories that align owners with pets are all ways he believes people will express their growing affection for animals. Our identities will become more intertwined with our pets — and our aesthetics likely will, too. 

He also has his eyes on the continuing rise of repurposed materials, citing Project Blu, who’s “showing that recycled products can be as good, if not better, than primary made.” When brands conquer that prejudice, they assume a stronger position over their competitors by adding a bonus, feel-good reassurance atop the same value prop. “It comes from a good place that makes me feel better that I’m using recycled materials,” he says. “We all like to do good.”

While Millennials—already the most environmentally conscious generation—have emerged as the biggest pet owners in recent years, expect this trend to advance as slashed budgets, reduced production, and stay-at-home orders lead many to use what’s on hand. Pet supply sales are down almost 25%, so consumers are examining any purchases extra carefully to hit a maximum of buying considerations. 

Millennials’ emergence as the overwhelming majority of pet owners has shaped another big trend in advance of—yet accelerated by—quarantine: telemedicine. It’s not enough to be available online; the majority of pet owners seek a certain type of experience: personable, customizable, and casual. 

Televet care will improve onsite treatment

It’s obvious that telemedicine is here to stay, if not already institutionalized by coronavirus. But its effects go beyond assessing whether or not an animal should come into the clinic. Weatherup says it will change both our level and manner of engagement with care. By erasing the “should I/shouldn’t I?” questions, telemedicine can simply connect an animal with the professional care it needs at an easy, affordable point. 

“The masses are going to push for better involvement, better interaction, better care for their animals,” he concludes.

He feels that “The vet industry in general has been very slow to respond,” protected by an old guard with all the right intentions. After 30 years of competition, the old model is now losing ground to telecom functionality. The pandemic has “given strength and voice to a new movement” as consumers’ need for telemedicine reaches a tipping point. 

Even before COVID-19 struck, innovators in the real world and online were reinventing the vet office experience. Beyond managing triage, telehealth gives traditional care the space and filtration to reinvent itself. 

“You’re going to have to show up in a different way as a veterinarian practice,” he says of changing care, already seen in the likes of Bond Vet clinic and apps like Fuzzy,“And I think that’s a really great thing. Call it a tipping point, call it a big huge bulldozer push, but it's changing the space. How care is delivered physically will change because of all of this.”

Pets make the world better, so make the world better for pets

As we lean deeper on our pets for comfort, Weatherup sees us paying it back to them, and hopefully learning to spread that care and concern broader than our immediate circle. As he said, we all like to do good in this world, and our choices reflect that. With so much out of our control, we make our decisions count. 

“I’d like to believe that one thing that comes out of COVID,” he reflects, “Is that we act like one people instead of a bunch of individual people, and we want to do good for other people. I’d like to believe that an outcome of this is that we’re more of a whole society instead of a bunch of individual parts.”

Stay tuned for more inspiring, thought-provoking and insightful conversations, featuring luminaries such as Dr. Zay Satchu, Co-Founder and Chief Veterinary Officer at Bond Vet; YuJung Kim, President at the Dodo; Zubin Bhettay, Co-Founder and CEO of Fuzzy Pet Health, and many more.