Maveron, VC Firm and Consumer Trendspotter, Sees Growth in Healthcare for People and Pets

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remote communication like this to become more common if people are going to continue to have access to healthcare in a timely way, Lewis says.

“We’re seeing increasing demand, increasing cost, and fewer physicians,” Lewis says. “Something has to happen that will allow access to primary care.”

Pets are another story, though. While the tectonic plates of human healthcare take their time in shifting, Lewis sees big growth coming in relatively short order with health insurance for pets. This is the result of a cultural change, in which pets are increasingly viewed as part of people’s families. That, coupled with the increasing cost and complexity of veterinary procedures, is making for a fast-growing market.

One of Maveron’s investments that seeks to capitalize on this trend is Trupanion, a Seattle-based pet health insurance company. There are an estimated 176 million cats and dogs in the U.S., Trupanion CEO Darryl Rawlings told the Seattle Times in 2008, yet very few were paying for health insurance when Maveron led a $22 million investment in Trupanion that year. Lewis, when we talked last week, said the company has seen significant sales in Canada, yet still has tapped only about 1 percent of its potential market.

I didn’t have much time to ask him in great detail about Trupanion, but Lewis ticked off a series of factoids about growth in the pet market that makes him bullish on the company and the sector. One particularly memorable survey found that 54 percent of American pet owners buy their pet a holiday gift, Lewis says. Health insurance, to protect your pet from a costly and life-threatening situation, seems like a logical next step, he says.

“This is a market we think will explode,” Lewis says.

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