The 1871/IHCC Hispanic Technology Incubator is a cohort-based accelerator that provides Latinx-led businesses with programming and mentorship. We asked each of the participating entrepreneurs about what makes them tick, and this week, we say hello to John Dillon, Founder of GuardianVets, which allows veterinary practices to offer after hours triage care to their clients.
- Q : Tell us a little bit about your personal history and background.
Former project finance/investment banking professional. Went to U of I, then spent 5 years based out of Singapore traveling a lot for work. Really enjoy finance but my dream has always been to have a successful company and wanted to go into entrepreneurship. When I adopted my puppy I realized that there was a big need for after hours veterinary care and I decided this was my chance to make meaningful change and bring real value to an industry I was passionate about.
- Q: Tell us a little about your company. What’s your elevator pitch?
GuardianVets allows veterinary practices to offer after hours triage care to their clients. This allows them to provide better service, bonds their clients more closely to their practice and increases revenue.
Pet owners love it because the service is convenient, comes from a trusted source and is completely free to them. Imagine being able to talk to a veterinarian at 2 am on a Saturday, for free, through your practice. We make that happen.
- Q: What about the program do you think is helping your business the most? Are there any specific examples?
First is the cohort: IHCC did a great job of picking fantastic founders with complementary skillsets so we can all help each other. Moreover, the startup path can be lonely so it is really nice to have other entrepreneurs you can talk to and connect with that are going through similar struggles.
Second, the programming. IHCC has done a tremendous job of bringing mentors to us that offer free help and advice. These are well-respected individuals in marketing, finance, sales, etc. that listen to us and help guide us for free. I am slammed with work all week but make the time for this program because it is so valuable.
- Q: What’s the greater good your company is trying to accomplish? How will it impact the community? What problem does it solve?
In the process, the client bonds more closely to their practice and ultimately the practice generates more appointments. So it's a "win" for both sides.
I am aware this isn't trying to "cure cancer" or "make the planet green" or "make the next Facebook". In a way, we are doing something niched but if you are a pet owner and have lived that moment of anxiety at night or during the weekend not knowing where to turn or who to talk to, that moment means everything to us because we are pet owners ourselves and have been through it. If we can help in that way we think will have made a big positive impact in the lives of many pet owners, create jobs and bring real value to our industry.
- Q: Give us a little insight into your perspective on diversity in the tech community. Why is it important? What do you hope to see?
Think about it like a farmer with crops. If the farmer's crops don't have diversity one disease can come in and wipe out his entire harvest. In that way, the harvest (or our economy to use the analogy) is more resilient with diversity.
I also think that there are probably emergent benefits to diversity (e.g. the whole being greater than the sum of the parts) that are hard to quantify but valuable and necessary nonetheless.
From personal experience having traveled a lot (many years), I have come back with a deep love for the country and the concept of "the American Dream". Not every country or culture embraces opportunity and failure the same way we do and that is really special. It is incumbent upon us to make sure that this continues and that anyone and everyone who works hard has a fair chance to make it.
Asides from the moral responsibilities we have as citizens, there is a clear economic imperative. At a bare minimum, diversity increases our flexibility to adapt as a country and in such a competitive global landscape we have to maintain this leadership because it is a big competitive advantage.
- Q: What is the most valuable experience you gained personally and for your business during the program?
I am scrappy and tenacious by nature. That certainly helped me get the business off the ground. However, talks with some very wise and helpful mentors have helped me elevate my thinking and start planning for the transition from a small company to a larger one. As entrepreneurs, we are often drilled about scaling technology but can forget that scaling a business (resources, processes, talent, etc.) is a separate and difficult challenge.
The Hispanic Tech Incubator provides access to mentors and tailored content designed specifically around the individual businesses admitted to the incubator. It also contributes to IHCC’s ongoing partnership with 1871, which supports Hispanic entrepreneurs, technology professionals, and students with educational programming, networking opportunities, and other resources. Learn more.