15 Mar Veterinary medicine students launch software startup to serve clinics
Annie Pankowski, a student at the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, never expected to add co-founder of a tech startup to her list of accomplishments. However, during the pandemic, veterinarians noticed a sharp increase in demands for care services and strained to find ways to maximize the efficiency of their staff and referral management systems.
So, Annie and her sister, Ali Pankowski, founded Transfur, Inc. as a direct solution to this industry-wide problem.
The platform allows veterinarians to request, send and review the medical records of patients who have received care from other clinics through a business-to-business software model. It uses artificial intelligence to extract relevant information from an animal’s previous medical history. The founders say it could be used by a variety of veterinary professionals, including specialists, primary care providers and care coordinators.
Pankowski was supposed to begin work at a campus research lab when COVID-19 put a halt to operations in spring 2020. While coursework shifted virtual, she then returned home to California, where her sister also studies veterinary medicine at the University of California, Davis. To keep busy in their free time, the siblings decided to help their mom, a veterinarian, at her practice.
It was at her mother’s clinic that Pankowski experienced the tediousness of current record-keeping and sharing techniques.
“I wanted to get more experience in the lingo and incoming cases,” Pankowski said. “I would pre-read all of her cases that were coming in that day and write a short history with important things my mom should look out for before she goes into this consultation with the client… It was mostly an exercise for myself.”
However, even when Pankowski went back to Wisconsin for school, she continued writing up client notes for her mother.
“She said it was super helpful because she didn’t have enough time to really go through each record. So even when I wasn’t home helping, I was at school doing that for her on the weekends,” Pankowski recalled. “I was laughing to myself like, ‘There’s got to be some technology that could do this better than how I’m doing it.’”
Thus, the idea for Transfur began to emerge — an idea that would eventually transform into a computer software solution that efficiently completes what Pankowski spent time doing by hand. It was during this time that she happened to come across an ad from Varsity Venture Studio, backed by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) and High Alpha Innovation, an Indianapolis-based venture studio that partners with large companies and universities to innovate through startup creation.