Dr Claire Jenkins knows firsthand the anxiety that many Aussies feel, when they can’t quickly pinpoint what’s wrong with their pet.
But, the reality is that getting to a vet in the middle of a busy week can be challenging. Sometimes, impossible.
As a vet, Claire struggled with this and knew something needed to change. Winning a scholarship through the SheStart’s accelerator program, Claire launched Vetchat in 2016 as Australia’s first on demand vet service.
Vetchat provides a seamless experience for pet owners seeking quick and thorough advice on their pet’s needs.
Claire’s the latest to answer our ‘Game-changing Women’ Q&A, and offers insights into why she’s doing what she does and how she’s found happiness and satisfaction in her own career.
See all our Game-Changing women here.
Who or what do you lead?
I’m the CEO and co-founder of a start up called Vetchat (www.vetchat.com.au) . It’s tele-health for pets. We provide easy access to veterinary advice online via 1:1 video consultations and chat.
How did you get here?
As a veterinarian, I saw that every day pet owners would delay getting the advice they need from their vet for their beloved pet. Sadly, I had pets come in very sick because their owners didn’t know to come in sooner, or just weren’t able to get there easily due to work and family commitments. For years I struggled with this problem and with the improvements in telecommunication infrastructure, technology advancements, and the awareness and demonstrated benefits of tele-health in humans, I knew this would form part of the solution. Lucky for me I have a very supportive partner who shared my vision and when my co-founder Matt came on board, things moved quickly. The turning point to my getting where I am today, was a friend suggesting I apply for the SheStarts program.
What ‘game’ are you changing?
We are working towards a better and more holistic health solution for Aussie pets. We want pet owners to be able to easily access advice from a vet, when they need it. The emphasis needs to shift to prevention and early intervention, rather than reaction. It’s a better system for all- pets, pet parents and their vets.
Who or what inspired you to do this?
After a lifetime of caring for animals from early childhood, to the realisation of my dreams in becoming a veterinarian, I know all too well the problems of our current pet care health system. It’s my patients that have inspired me to do this.
What skills have you acquired that have aided you to do this?
A very new skill for me is getting comfortable with being uncomfortable! As a veterinarian turned entrepreneur so much of what I do is brand new and is for the first time. So it’s a very intense time, and I don’t expect this to change. I have a very good work ethic (thanks to my parents) but what I’m learning is the art of prioritisation and that it’s ok not to have all the answers- just as long as you know how to find them. Personal resilience training through the SheStarts accelerator program has helped with this.
What does an average day look like for you?
Almost no two days are the same! A typical day involves being up at 6:30, brekky with the kids, off to work, being glued to a device- either my phone &/or laptop, chatting to pet owners, a stand up with my co-founder, back home, dinner with the kids, kids to bed then more time on the computer or phone!! Oh, and lots of coffee. And a dog walk. Then bed, and probably a settle of one of the kiddies once at night! Then all over again.
What key things would you say have helped drive your career to date?
The support of inspirational people in my family and those I’ve met along the way who have encouraged me and made me feel confident enough to try to make a difference, and truly do what I want to do.
What’s the best thing you’ve learnt about innovation?
That fear of failure flies in the face of innovation.
One of the best learnings was from Ned Moorfield at Eventbrite. He said that if you’re not making enough bets that don’t pay off, you’re not making enough bets!
How do you look after yourself outside of work?
Spending time with my family, friends and my dog are key to me being able to keep on going. I’d like to say I exercise too, but isn’t the case right now- however that’s a high priority in order to maintain this pace without burn out.
Describe your daily juggle?
I’m juggling a little family and running and building a company. There are many moments in the week where I feel like things are falling apart- it’s the love and support of my tribe that keeps me going.
How do you see yourself inspiring more women and girls into leadership?
I think just seeing more women in leadership roles is inspiring to other women and girls. If you can’t see it, it’s hard to be it.
How do you stay on top of industry developments?
A great tool that helps me make sure I’m across the latest news and trends is using Google alerts with many key words. I also read industry publications such as the Australian Veterinary Journal, and Twitter is great for startup related news.
What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self?
I would want to tell myself to worry less. I was so fearful of failure- and although that’s a great driver it can also be crippling. I would want to say that failure only exists when you don’t learn from something, or when you simply don’t try it at all.