Pet owners know how stressful the vet can be. When your pet’s nervous, you can’t help but feel the same. As both a pet parent and serial entrepreneur in the pet wellness space, Modern Animal founder and CEO Steven Eidelman understood this more than most when he set out “to better the lives of animals by building a place that’s better for all of us who love them.” As it prioritizes people, pets and seamless experiences, Modern Animal leads with transparency so that owners know exactly what to expect every time they visit a Modern Animal clinic.
Eidelman met engineer Keith Hackbarth after Hackbarth’s dog had torn both her ACLs. “It was a very traumatic moment, but when I heard about Modern Animal, I instantly knew it was a place where I wanted to invest in professionally,” he says. Hackbarth then became employee number two.
Modern Animal started with two locations and now has 15 clinics in Southern California, Northern California, Austin and Dallas, Texas. To best serve its mission and tens of thousands of members, both in-clinic and 24/7 virtual teams clock in from all around the world. Since day one, the organization has relied on Slack to connect its distributed teams, centralize communications and unlock productivity.
“Slack is the next evolution of email, allowing businesses to optimize communication,” Hackbarth says. “It unlocks productivity for Modern Animal so we can focus on improving the lives of pets, pet owners and the practitioners that care for them.”
“We operate in a fast, dynamic, hybrid/remote environment where connectivity is critical to the success of our teams. Since day one, Slack has been the primary tool that supports and facilitates our internal communications.”
Unlocking a powerful global workforce by centralizing communication
To control the member and employee experience from start to finish, Modern Animal intentionally builds its own in-house technology, including an electronic medical records system (EMR), website and easy-to-use app. Behind the code is an engineering team with members distributed across Poland, Argentina and the United States. “With Slack, we communicate with our engineers on many different projects in every possible time zone, empowering us to build the best software, quickly,” Hackbarth says.
Communication is especially crucial between engineers and clinic leadership. “Slack enables us to chat in real time with leadership to resolve issues efficiently and effectively,” Hackbarth says. Essential to this success are Slack channels, virtual spaces to share messages, automations, digital tools and files.
“Slack channels give us a centralized place for workflows, feedback and check-ins,” says Alex Benavidez, the director of business operations. The teams especially love the ability to search Slack and see historical context, often using the pinning feature to keep important information easily accessible.
Launch strategy and operations associate Julia Herrera-West manages new clinic openings from lease signing to about two months after the doors open for business, and she stresses the importance of Slack to get new clinics off the ground. “I can’t really see this working without Slack,” she says. “It has been such a great tool for communicating cross-functionally.”
Each new clinic is set up with a specific set of Slack channels, including clinic leadership and internal go-tos. They also use Slack Connect to extend secure, channel-based messaging to vendors. “Slack Connect simplifies our communication with partners that help move our technology and operational work streams forward,” says Benavidez. Modern Animal has successfully opened its more than a dozen clinics in the past three years, with five in the past year alone.
As it grows, Slack allows Modern Animal to move quickly and purposefully. “Slack facilitates sustainable clinics at scale,” says Herrera-West, ensuring that all processes can be replicated across the board. If someone just left the West Hollywood clinic, they can visit the Studio City clinic and feel the same Modern Animal support and quality.
“The ability to communicate across so many physical and virtual locations has been such a superpower. Slack is quick and easy to use, and team members just get it instantly.”
Tapping into automation to save time across the organization
Like much of Modern Animal, the engineering team often starts its days in Slack. To streamline busy mornings, Hackbarth uses a customized bot that posts in the
#engineering-internal channel, reminding everyone to share what they did the day before, what they’re doing today, and any blockers. “This gives everyone cross-team visibility: Sometimes dependencies affect other team members, so it helps everyone get unblocked to do their best work,” Hackbarth says.
The team heavily leans on integrations, including GitHub to share code and manage reviews, Notion for project management, and Jira for ticketing. The team can see who’s working on what, status updates, and when a project’s ready to ship. “Slack enables us to connect our critical apps together in a unified communication system, enabling us to optimize work,” Hackbarth says.
Benavidez relies on integrations like Typeform and Zapier. “Having everything in Slack is so incredibly helpful,” she says. “Our support software is fully integrated, which allows me or a clinic leader to hop in, respond and change the status. It saves so much time.”
Herrera-West echoes this sentiment. For her, the Google Calendar integration helps not just manage her time with reminders, but inform others when she’s in a meeting and might be slow to respond. Across the company, everyone uses emoji to illustrate similar status updates, whether that’s a ✈️ for travel, 🚗 for commute or 🏥 for when they’re in the clinic. “This open and constant Slack communication elevates how we collaborate,” Benavidez says.
Teams across the organization use Slack workflows to simplify processes further. For example, engineering has a thorough ticketing system, but a workflow makes sure that the request is robust before it reaches Hackbarth’s team. “Workflows empower our agents to get all necessary information up front so we can quickly triage and resolve issues,” he says.
On the operations side, they tap into this productivity booster to facilitate team shoutouts and recognize great work. In clinics, urgent prescription requests are prioritized by the internal fulfillment center through a handy workflow. “Slack integrations and workflows not only help with productivity, but make all of our day-to-day lives easier,” says Benavidez.
“Slack’s workflows and app integrations have drastically simplified our technology stack.”
Enabling a team culture built for the people, by the people
Modern Animal’s culture is an indispensable part of the employee experience, whether someone is working in a clinic, at headquarters, remotely or freelance. “We use Slack to create a culture led by employees, based on their beliefs and wants,” says the director of HR Ken Puno. “Leadership revisits this daily so we align with our people-first culture.”
The Slack experience starts from day one, when the onboarding administrator kicks off an initial ticket that alerts relevant teams that an employee starts soon. Prior to the workflow, the onboarding process was siloed and ineffective. “We didn’t know when an employee was coming because there wasn’t a central location to see everything holistically,” Puno says. “Slack helps ensure we’re all on the same page as teammates join.”
New members gain instant access to relevant channels and are introduced by their manager, with teammates chiming in via threads and emoji. “New folks get a lot of quick wins in Slack, whether it’s gaining historical knowledge or spinning up a quick huddle with your new manager,” Puno says. “It’s a warm welcome that gives everyone a baseline of where we are.” In true Modern Animal style, many new and existing team members love how they can hop on an informal huddle and still stay productive when they’re walking their dogs.
“Implementing a Slack onboarding workflow dramatically reduced churn and created a much better experience for everyone.”
To see that employees stay happy while at Modern Animal, Puno and his team use the Culture Amp and Lattice integrations to check in. Previously, usage was low. Now that they can integrate directly into Slack, people engage within hours. “Slack integrations unlocked usage of our core HR systems that we use to help guide our leaders,” he says. “We’re so much closer to a 100% participation rate.”
Modern Animal’s mission, people and processes create a powerful place to work. “I love that we’re using Slack to solve problems that make an impact,” Benavidez says. Herrera-West agrees: “The best part of Modern Animal is working with people who are dedicated to improving the lives of pets and the people who love them. I feel so good knowing this work has an impact, and hope to create a sustainable, career path for all our people.”