SoftBank leads $75m funding round in genetics start-up that aims to increase dog lifespans

The transaction values the Boston-based company that seeks to increase canine lifespans at $700m

SoftBank Group’s Vision Fund 2 led a $75 million funding round for Embark Veterinary, a genetics start-up that seeks to increase dog lifespans.

The transaction values the Boston-based company at $700m, Embark chief executive Ryan Boyko said.

“We give pet owners and breeders tools to create the best future for their dogs and want to be able to expand our audience,” Mr Boyko said, noting that Embark plans to use the proceeds for hiring and product development.

“The topic of mortality, because of the pandemic, has made families realise they want their dogs around for as long as possible.”

Embark, which is processing the DNA of a dog belonging to SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son, hopes to increase canine lifespans by three years towards the end of this decade.

The company, which has mostly catered to clients in the US and Canada, is considering an international expansion, said Mr Boyko.

Other companies to participate in the funding round include F-Prime Capital, SV Angel, Freestyle Capital, Slow Ventures and Third Kind Venture Capital.

Embark’s “Breed ID”, the official DNA test of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, sells for $129. It offers other tests that screen for more than 200 health risks.

Quote
We give pet owners and breeders tools to create the best future for their dogs and want to be able to expand our audience
Ryan Boyko, chief executive of Embark Veterinary

Clients have lengthened their dogs’ lives by avoiding certain drugs, altering diets or making other changes based on Embark’s data, said Mr Boyko.

Embark’s revenue surged 235 per cent in 2020 from a year earlier and is poised to eclipse $100m this year.

The company’s dog database will top 1 million in coming months, said Mr Boyko, who founded Embark in 2015 with his brother Adam, an associate professor at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine in Ithaca, New York.

Embark found that avoiding inbreeding, which can cause allergies and other maladies, is a simple way to add two years to a dog’s life.

Updated: July 27th 2021, 5:29 AM
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