The Charlotte Observer
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) As Catherine Muccigrosso reports, “A year after opening its first veterinary office in Charlotte, Petfolk has raised $40 million in funding from investors including a few celebrities in country music and NASCAR.”
This new funding will help the vet practice grow its system of office hospitals, mobile units and telemedicine for dog and cat health care, Petfolk Co-CEO Dr. Audrey Wystrach told The Charlotte Observer on Tuesday.
“This capital will allow us to rapidly expand,” said Wystrach, who has 28 years of veterinarian experience. She started Petfolk with her brother Michael Wystrach, an entrepreneur and founder of Freshly meal delivery company.
The $40 million seed money comes from several investors, according to Petfolk, which includes New York-based White Star Capital and California’s TriplePoint Capital, plus country music singers Miranda Lambert and Dierks Bentley, and NASCAR’s Jimmie Johnson, Erik Jones and Danica Patrick.
The Charlotte-based company’s goal is to become the largest vet service provider in the country, building hundreds of hospitals throughout the U.S., Wystrach said.
Petfolk’s veterinarian services
In May 2021, Petfolk opened its first hospital at 4914 Old Sardis Road. Two more locations have since opened at 5335 Ballantyne Commons Parkway in Charlotte and 631 E. Six Forks Road in Raleigh.
Petfolk also has 11 mobile care clinics in North and South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, Wystrach said. In the Charlotte region, Petfolk mobile wellness clinics partner with Pet Supplies Plus stores and Skiptown, a pet care facility and dog park and bar, at 222 Rampart St. in South End.
The company also offers 24/7 virtual care service with access to expert advice and veterinarians.
“It’s a customer-centric model,” Wystrach said, helping to eliminate stress and wait times, “meeting the customer where they want to be met.”
Petfolk offers basic wellness and preventative care, same-day appointments seven days a week, urgent care, diagnostic services, and transparent pricing, according to the company.
Petfolk will see more than 40,000 pets at its clinics this year, according to the company. Petfolk has 13 veterinarians and 60 employees, Wystrach said.
And the company is already expanding with five more clinics opening by next summer in the Carolinas and Florida. Two are in the Charlotte area. The 1642 SC 160 in Fort Mill, S.C., will open in November, Wystrach said, and 14227 Boren St. in Huntersville will open in March. Another North Carolina hospital will open in the spring.
Two more locations are expected to open in the Raleigh area next year, too, Wystrach said.
Petfolk’s model isn’t just appealing to pet parents, Wystrach said. As pet ownership rises, there’s a chronic shortage of veterinarians, according to a Mars Veterinary Health report.
Petfolk offers better work-life balance by mixing in-person and virtual visits for veterinarians and staff, she said, especially since the majority of veterinarians in the U.S. are women balancing careers and family.
“Hybrid work can be attractive,” Wystrach said.
Wystrach said she and her brother originally considered opening the flagship Petfolk hospital in New York where Michael lives.
“But I felt there were greater opportunities outside of New York City to build and grow an incredible pet ecosystem,” she said.
After traveling throughout the Southeast, she settled on Charlotte because it’s a rapidly growing city, has a large millennial demographic and is pet-friendly. “We feel there is a big demand for veterinary care and huge need for modern veterinary care,” she said.
Wystrach moved to Charlotte in fall 2019 by way of Austin, Texas, where she co-founded Zippivet Pet Hospitals.
Michael Wystrach, who had previously worked with investors like White Star Capital, sold Freshly for $1.5 billion to Nestle in 2020.
Their brother Mark, who is Michael’s twin, also introduced them to celebrity investors. Mark Wystrach is the lead singer and guitarist for the country music Grammy nominated band Midland.
“I think the one thing that’s really important with all of our investors is everybody has a love for pets,” Wystrach said.
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