“We Dig Joe Mig”

“DVM’s success will add well-paying business and technology jobs in the State of Maine and enhance Maine’s stature as a provider of solutions in the veterinary industry.”

That quote was the last sentence of a non-confidential summary submitted by an applicant seeking Development Loan funding from the Maine Technology Institute in late 2009. The applicant had a unique and interesting concept for a web-based platform and online pharmacy for veterinarians to “drive increased patient compliance for professional products/services.”

The applicant sought Seed Grant funding from MTI and, a few months later, Development Loan funding to help assess and further develop their nascent concept and company. The company, Direct Vet Marketing, now doing business as Vets First Choice, announced last week that it had raised $223 million in new investment to fuel its continued growth and expansion.  Mainestartupsinsider.com characterized the investment as “the single largest round of venture funding for a technology company the state has ever seen. In fact, Vets First Choice’s round is larger than Maine’s annual venture capital total for every year since 1995.”

This is obviously exciting news for the Maine Technology Institute and, indeed, for the entire State of Maine. Per the company’s press release, Vets First Choice is growing rapidly and more than doubled in size last year.  When the company’s co-founder approached MTI’s Director of Business Development, Joe Migliaccio, in 2009, it was truly a startup entity with only the two founders as employees.  Joe helped them navigate the rigorous MTI funding process and worked with the MTI Technology Review Board and the organization’s Board of Directors to provide early-stage funding and a critical validation of their innovative solution.  According to its website, the company now employs nearly 800 employees and, we’re told, expects to add at least 200 more in the coming year.  Amazing!

MTI’s formative investments in the company were well-aligned with MTI’s core mission of diversifying and growing Maine’s economy by encouraging, promoting, stimulating, and supporting innovation and its transformation into new products, services and companies, leading to the creation and retention of quality jobs in Maine. Additionally, true to MTI’s model, the company shared its success with MTI and Maine taxpayers by not only creating jobs and generating tax revenue but by providing repayment and investment return to MTI that can be used to help support other innovative companies looking to launch and grow in Maine.

Ben Shaw, Vets First Choice’s co-founder and CEO, has been kind in his words of praise for MTI’s support and for the assistance that Joe Migliaccio provided them throughout the company’s growth stages, saying recently that, “Vets First Choice appreciated the early engagement and funding from MTI when we launched the company in 2010.  “The funding MTI provided helped us test our value proposition, technology systems and commercialization plans.  MTI’s played a key role in our company’s growth and has led to hundreds of jobs and significant economic impact in Maine.”

David Shaw, the company’s other co-founder and Board Chair, simply added, “We dig Joe Mig.”

Without question, Joe Mig(liaccio) and the MTI Board of Directors played a role in helping the company get its start and it’s extremely gratifying to see how prophetic the company’s words were in its Development Award funding application to MTI in 2009 . . . “DVM’s success will add well-paying business and technology jobs in the State of Maine and enhance Maine’s stature as a provider of solutions in the veterinary industry.”

The Vets First Choice story is truly a remarkable one. Its well-known founders did an amazing job identifying gaps in veterinary patient care and developing a solution that has been warmly embraced and widely adopted by veterinary practitioners.

Again, MTI was pleased to have played a small role in helping the company get its start. Kudos to MTI’s Director of Business Development, Joe Migliaccio, for his productive and constructive working relationship with Ben and David Shaw and for his long and valuable service to MTI and Maine’s innovation economy.  Please give him a call if you would like to discuss how MTI can help you test and validate your innovative concept or solution.


Brian Whitney