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A Durangoan goes from veterinarian to techie

Durango vet thrives building apps for her peers

Stacee Santi always knew working with animals would be in her career cards.

She graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in veterinary medicine and practiced veterinary medicine in Portland, Oregon, and Durango for years.

But the continuous strain in the profession, especially the necessity of telling pet owners that the cost of saving their favorite furry friend was beyond their budgets, led her to explore options other than working as a veterinarian.

Vet2Pet, Santi’s Durango-based business that makes mobile apps for veterinary practices, emerged as Santi’s solution to keep her within the veterinary medical community while allowing her to escape the psychological stress of working as a vet day in and day out.

The apps allow pet owners to make appointments, get refills for prescriptions and get alerts for health threats such as regional outbreaks of rabies or the plague over their phones.

“Nowadays, most people want to do business without calling. They want a quicker way, especially millennials,” Santi said. “What we found was the apps also saved times for veterinary practices and hospitals. They could bundle their work and do it more efficiently.”

Santi, who learned to code from scratch, began making apps in 2013 at home after working during the day at Riverview Animal Hospital.

By the end of 2013, she had 200 apps written for veterinary practices, mainly in the Unites States and Canada.

“It got so busy, in 2016, I had to quit (Riverview Animal Hospital),” she said.

Today, Santi estimates Vet2Pet has 750 apps for clients across North America and the business has grown from Santi working out of her home to 15 employees, six in Durango who work at Vet2Pet’s office in the Elk Park Center in Grandview, four who work remotely across the Unites States and five developers who also work remotely, some from as far away as Serbia.

“The power of the company is the team working in Durango,” Santi said. “Every one of us is from the vet industry. We know the problems our industry faces and we help everyone figure out the tools they need and how to use them to overcome their problems.”

While most of Vet2Pet’s clients are in the U.S. or Canada, Santi said she also has a few clients in Portugal, China, Australia and Norway.

One of her first 10 clients was a veterinarian in Portugal.

Santi completed the app by sending every word in the app to him in an Excel spreadsheet, and he translated it from English to Portuguese.

Currently, Santi is hiring for positions in data entry, marketing and app development as she works to keep up with growth.

“We’re looking to hire nice people, and I think you find a lot of nice people in Durango,” Santi said. “We’re building a culture where people are self-managed. We’re trying to build a fun culture where we work hard, but work isn’t everything,” Santi said.

Santi credits the strength of Durango’s community for helping Vet2Pet grow. When she needed to develop a website, she stumbled across her web developer, Duffy Brook, at a Durango Youth Soccer game. Brook is the father of Keiran Brook, a friend of Santi’s son, Saylor.

“Our sons are both in college now, but that’s how Durango works. If you ask, there’s someone out there who’s willing to help you,” she said. “I’ll never move away from here. I don’t think you could find anywhere better.”

parmijo@durangoherald.com

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