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Veterinary Entrepreneurship Academy Wraps First Year with Nationwide Participation

Posted November 22, 2017

One of the ways the world of veterinary medicine is changing is through an increased focus on the veterinarian as an entrepreneur.

VEA2017Thirteen veterinary students from seven universities across North America were given the opportunity to intern with companies that are taking innovative approaches to their work in the veterinary and pet industries as part of the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences’ (CVM) 2017 Veterinary Entrepreneurship Academy (VEA).

The unique, 12-week program combines startups, students, universities, and veterinary practices to accelerate animal health innovation in an effort to educate, inspire, and transform students into future leaders and innovators within the industry.

As part of the program students from veterinary schools at Colorado State University, Biomedical Sciences Lincoln Memorial University, Michigan State University, Oregon State University, Texas A&M University, University of Guelph-Ontario, and University of Missouri participated in internship projects with partner startup companies and a challenging curriculum focused on entrepreneurship and business. VEA startup partners include Drip, FuturePet, Fuzzy, Hills Vetrax, Instinct, Innately, Pet Coach, Scopio, VetCove, VetBloom, and Veterinary Innovation Council.

Topics covered included the Lean Startup method, the business model canvas, the sprint process, prototyping, design thinking, customer engagement and experience, problem definition, communication skills and team culture, working remotely, and startup funding.

These lessons were reinforced by weekly guest presentations from innovative leaders within the veterinary profession. Speakers included Andy Roark, marketing expert and social media guru; Andy Maccabe, AAVMC; Mike Cavanaugh, AAHA; Dani McVety, Lap of Love; Brock Weatherup, PetCoach/PetCo; Ben Jacobs, Whistle/Mars; Ben Lewis, One Health Company; John Tait, VMG; Julia Stephanus, Avviare; and Linda Lord, Merck.

LittleVEA17“The VEA is designed to empower these students with the mindset and skills to thrive in the changing world of animal health,” said Adam Little, CVM adjunct assistant professor of practice and VEA creator. “The caliber of each student (who participated this year) exceeded our expectations, and they brought a tremendous amount of passion and energy to each of their respective position.”

The program concluded with a two-day event in Portland, Oregon, sponsored, in part, by Merck and in collaboration with the NAVC LIVE conference.

“The in-person event allowed for a more personal level of networking and collaboration between students, program leadership, and sponsors,” Little said. “Students were also asked to ‘pitch’ their startup companies and talk about the VEA experience in front of a live audience of meeting attendees.”

The VEA strives to advance student learning and accelerate new products and services from some of industry’s most promising companies by combining a summer curriculum in entrepreneurship with a practical internship in a startup company.

Veterinary schools contributed a $5,000 stipend towards their participating students, and startup partners paid $5,000 to the program in order to receive a summer intern.

Students reported very positive overall experiences with the summer program, with the average total confidence improvement at more than 90 percent.:

“I’m not joking when I say that this program completely upended my perspective of this field and the place I will hold within it,” one participant commented. “This space creates a magnet for hardworking, out-of-the-box thinkers to come together, and that’s the best part.”

“I think this is such an amazing opportunity for students,” another student said. “I honestly believe this program has changed the course of my career. Thank you for giving me the courage to follow my heart and the knowledge to back the decision to do so!”

“I would 100 percent recommend this program to someone if it sparks some interest in them,” a third participant said. “I think this program is great for students who want to learn more about non-traditional veterinary careers, specifically business ones.”

Plans are being made for another VEA in 2018.



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