How much do you know about innovative Atlantic Canadian entrepreneurs? This article is part of a special feature showcasing exciting initiatives occurring in Atlantic Canada’s innovation ecosystem. Here, we will introduce you to the success of innovative men and women across the region that are making an impact on the economy. This special feature is sponsored by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.
A lot of people think that high tech startups can only become successful in the bright lights of Silicon Valley.
Too often, they believe that companies need access to big name venture capital and the talented people that live in the land of Apple, Google and Facebook. But the rapid growth of Antigonish, Nova Scotia’s Dragon Veterinary software quickly dispels that notion. You can build a very strong startup from a base in rural Atlantic Canada.
Dragon Veterinary’s team created voice recognition software that speaks “veterinarian” – it understands and interprets the unique terms used by veterinarians with a remarkable 95 per cent accuracy rate.
That saves a lot time for busy vets when transcribing patient notes.
Shawn Wilkie, the CEO of Dragon Veterinary, is a serial entrepreneur, having founded and grown several other Nova Scotia-based companies from his home base in Antigonish. He launched Dragon Veterinary with his partners two years ago, and today the software is used by about 600 vets around the world.
The company is already profitable, and saw its revenue double in 2017.
Dragon Veterinary works closely with Massachusetts-based Nuance Communications, the global leader in speech software. That company has 14,000 employees in 35 countries. Wilkie says that the partnership is a “deep relationship that crosses sales and marketing as well as product.”
Dragon Veterinary also has sales partners across Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. That bodes well for a market with more than 200,000 English-speaking vets.
Wilkie is bullish on the future for Dragon Veterinary. He’s looking ahead to more growth driven in large part by word of mouth referrals from existing customers.
That’s because Dragon Veterinary earns great reviews from the vets who use it.
“We’ve got raving fans,” said Wilkie, citing the enthusiasm of their clients about the product as one of the biggest surprises he’s experienced since launching the company.
“We’ve had clients call us to say that our product has made their significant other love them again because it saves them three hours per day every single working day of their life,” he says.
Most vets, like other healthcare professionals, must spend hours each day handling the administrative side of their profession. Updating patient files is a big part of what they do, but something often unseen by patients.
Who wouldn’t want to get three hours of their life back every single workday? That takes away a lot of stress and frees up a big part of the day for higher value work or spending time with family.
Fortunately, Dragon Veterinary’s product delivers what it promises, and each sale creates a new ambassador for the product, spurring more sales says Wilkie.
Wilkie credits a supportive environment for startups in Atlantic Canada as one big reason for Dragon Veterinary’s success.
The company has an office at Halifax’s Volta, a startup tech hub. It’s home to what Wilkie calls the “young, bright people” who are helping move the company forward.
“There are tons of smart people in this province,” he says. “We’re trying to do something that has never been done, we need people who can think differently.”
Wilkie also credits the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency for their support of the company.
“ACOA is a great partner,” he says. “I’ve had other loans from ACOA for my other businesses and I’ve repaid them all. They’re an easy partner to work with, and they’ve allowed us not to have a complicated relationship with a traditional lender.”
“We’re super-stoked to have ACOA as a partner.”