Chula Students Come up with a Business Idea – SOPet, an Online Veterinarian Service

SOPet, an online veterinary clinic and popular startup that gives instant advice on pet issues, is the brainchild of Chula sophomore students in the Bachelor of Arts and Science in Integrated Innovation (BAScii) degree, under CU Innovation Hub – a highlight of the strength of the social enterprise, fast, reliable, and affordable.  Based on the life experience of pet owners who need urgent advice and assistance in times of crisis but are unable to rush to the clinic or veterinary hospital in time, SOPet was created.

“BAScii is an international program with an emphasis on integrated innovation and business operations under the support of CU Innovation Hub. The program offers a course called Project Seed which students are required to take, and we must form our own start-up company as a project,” said Chwin Wiriyasophon, one of the founders of SOPet, talking about the inception of the project. Their key advisors are Dr. Ronakorn Waiyawut, program instructor, and Dr. Teerakorn Ananthothai – Chief Innovation Officer and Co-Founder of Globish Startup Company.

Why online veterinarian?

“An idea for SOPet came from a friend, also the co-founder, who had experienced a problem when he couldn’t take his pet to the vet because his house was flooded. Plus, we’re all pet lovers, so we came up with the idea of an online veterinary business,” said Chwin, Managing Director of SOPet, while introducing 5 co-founders and 3 other team members: Napat Xiangliu, Wachirawit Siridechanon, Chananya Asawawararit, Chosiya Losuwankul, Phakamon Inthanilom, Emiri Hiraoka, Pusadee Prasertwit and Korpong Ruengwattanakul.

BASCii students, Owners of SOPet Business Idea
BASCii students, Owners of SOPet Business Idea

“We share business operations responsibilities without them affecting our studies.  Though this project is already a part of our courses, we try to find some extra time to take care of the business every day.  We outsource the admin work as well.”

SOPet service model

Chwin explained that the current SOPet service model is still at the stage of an MVP (Minimal Viable Product) that offers services through a Facebook page.

“We are testing the market first, and soon, we will be introducing the website. Customers can send messages via Facebook chat. We have an assigned person to recommend how to choose the type of services and coordinate with veterinarians whose expertise matches the needs of customers. We have a network of over 20 veterinarians (selected from more than 80 applicants) who can offer consultation within 5-10 minutes.”

SOPet’s Official Page

Chwin said that after about a year of service, the feedback has been highly satisfactory.  Based on service evaluation scores in a survey of more than 1,400 pet owners, over 98%  rated SOPet as “very good”.

“DARF” – SOPet’s Strengths

The Managing Director of SOPet said that business is based on the core values of “DARF”

  • D – Diversity of the veterinarians on the SOPet network with different specializations who can care for various types of animals, general pets, aquatic animals, poultry, reptiles, or exotic pets.
  • A – Accessibility to services that are convenient, speedy, inexpensive, with a focus on providing assistance.
  • R – Reliable – the clients will receive basic information about the consulting veterinarian, both his/her education and work history before every consultation.
  • F – Fast – the veterinarian will be in contact within 5-10 minutes.

What topics can I consult with the online veterinarian?

SOPet focuses on giving advice on online channels, the types of which customers can choose to fit their needs.

  • Consultation via chat (service rate, regular questions: 45 minutes for 45 baht; questions regarding illnesses: 60 minutes for 65 baht) with an unlimited number of questions under one topic during the specified time slot with SOPet as an intermediary in sending and receiving the messages.
  • Call Consultation (20 minutes, 120 baht) with an unlimited number of questions and topics.  Customers will also receive a summary of the consultation.
  • Video call Consultation (20 minutes, 150 baht) with an unlimited number of questions and topics, no typing, no photos or videos required. Customers will also be provided a summary of the consultation.

The discussion with the SOPet veterinarian focuses on 6 important topics:

  • Answer various questions of pet owners
  • Assess the urgency of the case if a visit to the veterinary hospital or clinic is necessary.
  • Provide information on the most common symptoms and symptoms to watch out for.
  • Provide information on possible causes of early symptoms.
  • Provide information on primary basics care for sick animals
  • Give advice and necessary precautions

However, the veterinarians will not agree to give any diagnosis or treatment of animals via an online platform.

SOPet aims to expand the service in the future

For the future plan of this social enterprise, SOPet’s founding team hopes to develop an online medical service system (Telemedicine) that is top-of-mind of customers across the country. They may sign memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with agencies such as the Faculty of Veterinarian Sciences to develop a shared-service platform in the future.

“We have to thank every important party that has made this startup a reality — our friends from BAScii who have been by my side, ready to adapt and fight together all along; our teachers and mentors who spared their time to give us advice and believed in us since day one. Also, thanks to all the faculty members, staff members, BAScii executives, and all our friends at CU Innovation Hub for their support,” said Chwin.

Chula produces able graduates who become quality citizens for society.

Prof. Bundhit Eua-arporn President of Chulalongkorn University