Business Journey: Anthony Chadwick of The Webinar Vet
With the ambition to make continuing professional development more accessible and efficient for time-pressured veterinary doctors and nurses, Anthony Chadwick founded The Webinar Vet ten years ago. Since then, it has amassed a community of 60,000 and the company is helping industry bodies to take their events online.
Tell us about your business, what does it do?
I'm the CEO at The Webinar Vet, which is the leading online training platform for vets and nurses which helps them keep up-to-date with their continuing professional development (CPD) training.
I started the company in 2010 and it has grown steadily over the last 10 years since. We have the best speakers from all over the world helping to keep our veterinary community of over 60,000 up to date with new developments in veterinary science.
What did you do before you started this business?
I qualified as a veterinary surgeon and spent most of my time in small animal practice in Liverpool with a special interest in dermatology.
I previously worked as a veterinary surgeon and dermatologist in my own small animal practice in Liverpool, while simultaneously consulting for other practices. I sold my practice 15 months after the successful launch of The Webinar Vet and later stopped my dermatology consultancy in 2016 after investment from the North West Business Fund enabled The Webinar Vet to vastly increase its services.
What inspired you to start up?
The old-fashioned way of doing CPD was ready to be disrupted. Previously, it was not an efficient way of delivering training, from a cost of time or money perspective. After I set up The Webinar Vet, many colleagues piled onto the platform showing me that my opinion was a widespread and shared one.
I've always been an innovator and in 2008 I opened an online veterinary pharmacy, one of the first. I went to a congress in London about digital marketing and listened to an Aussie guy talking about webinars. It was a light bulb moment for me. I thought this would be a perfect way to train vets and nurses, rather than attending evening meetings in hotels after work was done, which often left you exhausted the next day.
How would you describe your business to your grandma?
Put simply, I help vets to stay up-to-date with all new developments so they can look after your pet better.
Where do you get advice, support or help?
Reading, videos, going to courses and then, of course, my colleagues and particularly my Chairman, Rob Noble.
I'm so fortunate to have had two splendid chairs of my board help me with developing the business. Lydia Brown was my first Chair. She is an ex-president of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and actually helped get me into vet school all those years ago. Rob Noble is my present Chair and is a very savvy businessman who has run several businesses and was heavily involved in developing the iplayer. They have both given me much sage advice and are inspirational!
Finance is one of the most common barriers to starting up. How did you access the finance you needed?
I bootstrapped the business in the first five years and then took on some investment from AXM, a Manchester-based investment fund.
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
We now have over 60,000 members of our community. Providing my colleagues with high-quality education along with life-changing help in reducing stress amongst vets is something I’m very proud of. We’ve also recently worked with the World Veterinary Association Congress (WVAC2020).
The World Veterinary Association (WVA) was forced to cancel its 36th World Veterinary Association Congress (WVAC) being hosted in New Zealand by the New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) because of the restrictions imposed by the outbreak of COVID-19.
Out of adversity, however, came innovation. The NZVA is worked with WVA and partnered with The Webinar Vet to deliver an online festival of veterinary learning, which started on 25 April. It lasted for three weeks and delivered over 100 hours of CPD/CE across a mixture of live and recorded lectures. The webinars will be accessible for six months for delegates to watch at their leisure.
We will also be running World Congress of Veterinary Dermatology (WCVD9) in October. Having worked in veterinary dermatology most of my professional life and attended each world congress since WCVD3 I'm honoured to be helping WCVD9 go online for the first time.
How do you differentiate your business from others?
We are very purpose-centred and customer-centric. As a vet myself, I want to help make vets' and nurses' lives easier.
What’s it like to be your own boss?
Hard sometimes. It can be tough at the top, but I have a very good team who I try to serve to the best of my ability. It’s good to see I’m making a difference in my niche and the demand for what we do across the industry.
Where do you see your business in five years' time?
Growing into other verticals like medicine and dentistry and increasing our efforts in virtual conferences which is developing due to COVID-19.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Just do it! When I went back to my digital marketing conference a year later, I met people who I had seen the previous year. They were still perfecting their website whilst I had a six-figure business. However, don't burn your bridges. I would advise continuing with your job or run your other business until you can see that the new idea has real traction and attraction with your clients. Always listen to your clients too!