28 June 2021|Brand Story, Latest Posts, Meet the Successful Founder
Anthony Chadwick, a serial entrepreneur, is the founder and CEO of The Webinar Vet, a world leader veterinary education. He is one of the most recognised and respected thought leaders in the UK veterinary sector. Anthony is famous for disrupting the veterinary profession with new and innovative ideas to make life easier for vets and nurses. He is very passionate about providing high quality education and services to veterinary professionals in a very accessible and affordable manner which is also sustainable for the environment.
Anthony founded The Webinar Vet in 2010, when the word webinar was not in the veterinary dictionary. A vet by trade, whilst at an internet conference he spotted a gap in the market to make veterinary education and training more accessible and affordable, via the medium of webinars. Trailblazers in the industry, the company grew very quickly and now has over 75,000 veterinary professionals accessing the training in over 120 countries. Students currently spend a combined annual total of Over 200,000 a year training on the site. The Webinar Vet training has reduced travel mileage by several million miles since starting in 2010 with concomitant carbon reduction. We caught up with Anthony recently to learn more about his entrepreneurship journey.
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
I wanted to be a vet from eight years old. I was very much a vocational vet but stopped practicing in 2016 as The Webinar Vet got bigger and busier. I see that my ability to improve animal welfare and the life of vets is much more leveraged at The Webinar Vet than when I ran my practice in Liverpool.
The business has been running 11 years and has grown steadily in that time with impressive growth in the pandemic as we supported vets and the veterinary industry with communications and education.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
I’ve always been a creative sort and someone who would go outside of the profession and look at what was happening elsewhere. The veterinary profession is quite conservative which stops it being as open to new ideas. I was attending an internet conference and I heard someone talking about webinars. It was a light bulb moment for me as I thought it would be an ideal way of training vets and nurses, post-qualification, in an affordable way and cut down on unnecessary travel. The speaker at the conference enrolled me on his course and I did my first webinar six weeks later.
How did you achieve awareness?
As well as owning a general veterinary practice, I also took referrals from other vets for pets with difficult to treat skin problems. My first webinar was on pruritus in pets, and I invited my referral vets. I had over 50 vets attending. Shortly after my first webinar I attended the British Small Animal Veterinary Association’s congress in Birmingham. I walked around the commercial exhibition and told the companies that they should be using webinars. They all asked me what a webinar was! However, shortly after that, a number of companies had me running their webinars about different medical conditions that they had medications or diets for. They helped to promote their webinars to their veterinary clients which further raised the company profile. Within the first few months we were getting up to 1000 vets and nurses on our free commercial webinars.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
When I started the business, it was an experiment for me but within 15 months I had sold my practice so I could spend more time on The Webinar Vet and also look after sick parents. The business was bootstrapped for the first five years, and we grew it without taking out any loans. By 2015, my parents had passed away and I was ambitious to grow it for the benefit of a larger community. The Northwest Business Fund and a few angels invested £380,000 which allowed us to grow the team and improve the website.
What are the key successes?
Bringing a much more sensible way of doing veterinary statutory training into the profession has been hugely satisfying. I often get stopped by vets and nurses at conferences to tell me how much easier their life has become with the help of The Webinar Vet. When I started the digital revolution in the veterinary profession, nobody knew what a webinar was. Now it is the most common way that veterinary professionals do their training.
Bringing together a highly motivated, talented team has also been a huge thrill for me. The success of any business is based around its people, and I’m blessed to have such a fabulous team. Deciding what you want culture and values to look like and getting the team to help you with this and get buy in is essential for a happy and productive team.
Finally, our work during the pandemic was much appreciated by the profession. We worked closely with the British Veterinary Association to make sure that all parts of the industry were well aware of what was happening in the country and how it affected veterinary life.
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
We wanted to become an Edtech business, but we found it very difficult to find digital web agencies who wanted to develop a partnership with us. They just seemed interested in the money! We’ve developed our own team of developers who are passionate about what we are trying to do. The non-executive directors in the business have also been instrumental in helping us to make the transition to a truly tech business. We’ve been named in GP Bullhound’s Top 100 tech businesses twice.
As the company grows, you must develop new skills as a leader to get to the next level. Mentoring has been really important for me and my senior team to help us to go to the next level.
What are your plans now/for the future?
We doubled the size of the company during the pandemic. That sort of growth shows your stress points, and we want to consolidate our position this year and systemise the business. We’ve also acquired WikiVet, a student site, and Simply Vets which is involved with recruitment. We want to assimilate these two companies so that the entire company becomes a true marketplace for the veterinary profession. We are also investigating what place mixed reality has in veterinary education.
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
There are certain people who are entrepreneurs and others who like to pick up a pay packet. Be honest with yourself about who you are and then if you feel you are entrepreneur, start playing. It’s possible to be working for somebody else but in the evenings experimenting with little projects that excite you. If any of these projects gain traction, then there may be an opportunity to grow the project into a business. Obviously, don’t be dishonest and do something that competes with the company you work for. Look for a new idea in the industry you are familiar with or in one you are passionate about. This way you don’t bet all the family silver; give up your job and then find that your new idea is not appealing to your prospective clients.
Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most?
Jesus Christ would obviously be first but he’s not really into social media. Another who impresses me is Pope Francis @pontifex. He’s leading on the environment and his twitter handle means bridge builder. We live in a very binary world and I’m always wanting to work collaboratively with people which I enjoy much more than being competitive and going toe to toe.
My wife, Rachael, is an inspirational teacher. She is Deputy Head in her school but ran it during the pandemic due to the headmaster needing to shield. She is a great champion of the under privileged and a leading advocate about the importance of education for the future. Our present government sees it as a cost on the P&L whereas she sees it as an investment in the future of the country. @r_chadwick99
I admire Jurgen Klopp as well. He is the manager of my team, Liverpool Football Club. He also eschews social media @LFC. I believe my role as founder of the company is to be the enthusiast and encourager of the team. He does that job so well at Liverpool whilst also not being afraid of making big decisions like dropping players from matches or moving them on.
David Attenborough. I’m an advocate for environmental issues and I remember watching Life on Earth in the early 80s and this cemented my desire to work with animals and to consider my impact on the environment. I went around Africa on sabbatical in 2005 on public transport and was thrilled to see the mountain gorillas just as David did during the Life on Earth series. We must sort out the climate emergency! It’s an existential threat. @davidattenborough
What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?
Just Do It! Nike
I think Benjamin Franklin said “pour the money from your purse into your brain. An investment in your education is never wasted.” It’s what we are about, creating the world’s most confident vets and nurses!
What are your social handles and website links so our readers can connect with you?
The Webinar Vet