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Interview with Shawn Wilkie – Cofounder of Talkatoo and cohost of Veterinary Innovation Podcast

Hi Shawn, tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Shawn Wilkie and I’m a tech entrepreneur. I’ve done several tech startups in in my life. I’ve been an entrepreneur since I’ve been in my early 20s. My career has mostly been focused in technology. But I’ve also done real estate and a few other crazy businesses along the way, everything from video rental businesses to AI and machine learning companies, so a wide variety of businesses throughout my career.

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Currently one of your projects is the Veterinary Innovation Podcast. Can you tell us a bit more about it, how it got started?

Yes. It’s actually a funny story. So, I like telling it! Three and a half years ago, I started a voice recognition company for veterinarians and it was going really well. We were growing quite fast. We partnered with a company to do the work and you know, after two years of running the business we had customers all over the world including Australia and New Zealand, but the business was not that interesting because there was not a big recurring revenue component of the business. So, we would sell things to our customers one time. The customer would buy the product and then we would have really no ongoing relationship and the product didn’t evolve or innovate, it was kind of like box software from the 90s that was frozen in time unless you bought a really expensive update. So because of that I had an opportunity to sell that company and I took the opportunity to sell it and I exited from the company at that point. I was really not doing anything but it had made a friend along the way in the journey of that company.

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Dr. Ivan Zak, he is a great guy and had started a company in the veterinary field – Smartflow.  He sold that company to Idexx and around the same time that I was leaving my company he was finishing up working for Idexx. And so we were hanging out and I said, you know, “Ivan, what are we going to do? Like, you know, I know we’re both going to be bored really soon and we’re going to be looking for something to do” and he said “yeah, I’m not sure what we should do.” And I said “we should start a podcast” and he looked at me and he’s like: “what’s a podcast?” I was like, “what are you talking about”, he is my age, like we are both forty. We were both 38 at the time when we started it. So I said “dude you are in technology, you’re the head of technology for one of the largest veterinary medicine companies in the world and you don’t know what podcasts are?” and so after we get over that and I made fun of him a little bit we decided to start the podcast and we didn’t really know what we were going to be doing with the podcast. We didn’t know where it was going to go and you know, to be honest, we kind of both thought that it might be something that we try and it just kind of fades away and disappears. But now with 73 episodes behind us like we’re going super, super strong. We’ve got people lined up to be on our podcast till November 2021, we’ve got a lot of episodes recorded that we can’t wait to get out to our listeners. So that’s how it all started.

That’s a pretty interesting story! So, in the Veterinary Innovation Podcast you talk about innovation mostly, so what are the five innovations in veterinary medicine that caught your attention?

Yeah, so we’ve had close to 100 episodes and some of the ones that I found really interesting… The first one would be episode 37. In this we talked about how AI is being used. So we had the founder of SignalPet on that podcast and I learned a lot there. So this guy’s a very very interesting guy. He’s Israeli guy that has a massive background in Ai and machine learning and he partnered with the founder of Blue Pearl the largest Veterinary Hospital chain in the USA. He’s exited from that. They founded this company and they’re literally allowing veterinarians in practice to use their platform, to upload radiographs, have basic diagnostic work done on those radiographs. And then if more advanced work is needed it will be sent off to a specialist on the platform and the veterinarians interact directly. So using AI machine learning to advance radiology. I think it’s one of the trends that we’re going to see I know the it’s a trend that exists in human medicine and I think the work that they’re doing is absolutely incredible. And that was episode 37.

Yeah, and then if we bounce to something completely different episode 23 is where we talked about health and wellness and how that can improve innovation in veterinary medicine. So we had dr. Cara on and she is a really quite an incredible veterinarian from PEI Canada, Prince Edward Island, and she in addition to being a veterinarian is a wellness coach owns a cross fit gym and she talks about you know, her whole life story about being a veterinarian burdened in debt and then finding like physical activity and kind of running into that and that helping kind of really innovate her entire life and kind of get her back back on track and yeah, she’s become a friend of mine and actually using her methods and her help I lost 60 pounds and became a much healthier person. I’m a big advocate of hers and I thought that that was just a really really awesome episode that we did there for all of those reasons.

Yeah, and then episode 28 next. So we talked to Sam Ginn from Vetspire and they’ve got a really innovative practice management system that leverages AI to meet up documentation and very very interesting in a lot of auto complete text a lot of past clinical diagnostic protocols that are integrated into the app. So the veterinarian life when comparing their medical record is a lot easier.

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Then we’ll bounce over to Episode 34 and we had Dr. Jennifer Ogeer from Antech Diagnostics. To talk about urine analysis in cats and how they have amassed these massive amounts of data from there from the Marge group of companies, which is the largest the largest animal health company. I think in the world are as there’s more veterinarian or more people working in the Veterinary Medical Space than anybody else and they’ve taken all of their data of twenty years of analysis. To be able to predict illnesses in cats before the illnesses would appear. So they take the sample of the urine and then they’re able to predict a lot of ailments that happen in these animals before they actually even present. So very very good stuff. You know, it’s like predicting which is really incredible and I think that we will continue to see Antech do some really Innovative things in this space. And a lot of other IA companies, I think we’ll see the same thing. The thing that they have going for them, which is a really unique competitive advantage is the amount of data that they’ve matched that they’ve got categorized that they can run through the Predictive Analytics using artificial intelligence. So it’s a really, really cool stuff.

And then and then the last one Episode 44 we talked about Wireless vital monitoring technology, so Scott was on our show and they have an incredible device that gets strapped on the inside of a cage after surgery or pet that they want to monitor and they’re able to monitor blood pressure, pulse and even temperature wirelessly without having any contact with the pet just having this device that straps on the cage. It uses Doppler technology. He had a really interesting story. These veterinarians wanted to monitor a really large cat and you know, every time you want to go in the cage with a lion or a tiger for that matter it is not necessarily a safe thing to do and where we can use this technology to monitor those large animal makes it a lot safer for the veterinarian. Just really it’s really incredible technology. So I think that we’re going to see a lot of stuff happening with that type of technology. There’s a lot of wearable technology companies out there that are doing the same thing, but I think wireless monitoring will be an incredible Innovation that will really change veterinary medicine and so it was a really interesting episode and there’s so many more different things happening in veterinary medicine. I really think it is interesting to see all of these different innovations and to hear about them every week. It’s been a lot of fun.

You have a new project too! Tell us a bit more about Talkatoo and how does it help veterinarians?

So yes, Talkatoo is my startup and you know, we leverage AI and artificial intelligence and the largest computer network in the world to produce the best dictation software that veterinarians can find anywhere. Talkatoo has existed for just over a year. We’ve actually only started selling the product about 12 months ago. Talkatoo works on Mac and PC. So a doctor can use our software to do their clinical records at work and if they have a Mac at home, they can use the same software and have the same experience and do their medical records at home. What Talkatoo helps them do is get their medical records done in half the time by using their voice, and they can do that in any field on either one of those platforms. So there’s no specific integration that needs to be done. They can literally click in a field and then type everything that appears on the screen.

Shawn explaining how Talkatoo is used in practice
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