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With His Abu Dhabi-Based Enterprise PetRepublic, Mohamed Alzaabi Has Created A One-Stop-Shop For All Pet Care Services In The UAE Alzaabi launched PetRepublic in 2022 as an app -available on the Apple Store as well as Google Play Store- that connects its users to a network of certified pet care centers in the UAE.

By Aalia Mehreen Ahmed Edited by Aby Sam Thomas

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Mohamed Alzaabi, founder, PetRepublic

With great pets come great responsibilities. Now, I apologize if my take on this iconic Spider-Man line wasn't to your taste, but there is immense truth in the statement itself- after all, taking care of our animal companions comes with a multitude of tasks to be mindful of. However, managing all of them can become a complicated affair- and it's a problem that Mohamed Alzaabi came to realize as a pet owner himself in the UAE. "I used to have a really hard time finding a pet care center that was within my schedule and budget, because I would have to call several centers to get their pricing, and find if they're available to take an appointment," Alzaabi recalls. "The second issue came with the vaccination book for a pet, or what we call the pet passport. The thing is, it's just a notebook with information- but there is no database! So, if, God forbid, my pet goes missing, then that's it! I wouldn't be able to find him." It is therefore to tackle such issues that Alzaabi launched PetRepublic, an Abu Dhabi-based pet care platform that has been especially catered toward pet owners in the UAE. "When I first thought about PetRepublic, I had the idea for a platform where I could get everything for my pet in a single place," Alzaabi explains. "As such, at PetRepublic, we are making it a one-stop-shop for pet owners. More importantly, we are also innovating how pet care is being done by having the first ever e-passport, which will ease the process of booking and managing your pet's medical records."

Alzaabi launched PetRepublic in 2022 as an app -available on the Apple Store as well as Google Play Store- that connects its users to a network of certified pet care centers in the UAE. On the app, users can choose from a variety of services to book for their pets, which include grooming, boarding, and training, pet products such as premium food and toys, and a pet taxi service that allows for hassle-free transportation to and from various locations. "However, our main service would be the e-passport, which runs on a subscription basis," Alzaabi adds. "It basically changes how the current system is by offering a database for microchipped pets, veterinary information courtesy artificial intelligence, an ownership transfer feature, and medical recordkeeping. The other services would be booking appointments for various pet care services and ordering products. The reason that we choose these offerings is that it would be the most fundamental service every pet owner would need, and if you have a pet, then you're our target market."

According to Alzaabi, PetRepublic's e-passport seamlessly binds the many different facets of the startup's operations. "We took a look at all the different marketplaces that are currently in use for the last 10 years, and modeled our user journey based on them, which would allow the platform to be easy to use, because even though we are a tech startup that wants to innovate, we also want to keep the user interface as simple as we could," Alzaabi explains. "The user would therefore initially have to sign up, create an e-passport, following which they can get the free e-passport and start booking appointments or ordering products, or get a subscription for added benefits, and actually be registered on the database."

Related: Charting New Paths: Embracing The Entrepreneurial Boom In The UAE

Now, if you take a close look at PetRepublic's approach towards pet care, you'll notice that it directly addresses the rules set in place for pet owners by the UAE government. For example, in the UAE, dogs and cats must be microchipped and receive their annual vaccinations, with a new municipality registration tag issued after every vaccination. However, Alzaabi notes that there are also several other day-to-day responsibilites that PetRepublic seeks to help pet owners with as well. "There are several issues that pet owners face, such as not knowing which weight range to choose when booking an appointment, as every weight range has a different price," he explains. "And, again, the whole debacle of pet vaccination books or passports not being verified or being on a database, which we have solved by creating a digital version. Another issue is that we have a lot of expats that come here, and do not know where to take their pets, or where to find good pet stores, So we are solving all that by creating a one stop shop at Pet Republic."

Source: PetRepublic

Now, while Alzaabi's journey into entrepreneurship began from a personal pain point, the founder says that the sense of accomplishment that has unraveled along the way has been a welcome addition. "The most rewarding part of launching PetRepublic is talking to the pet owners, and having them love the product itself, and actually feeling that we have solved something that they have been struggling with," he says. "The sort of impact that we hope to create is to innovate, and change how pet care is being done in the region by providing a better and a higher standard of care." But this journey towards reaching a state of purpose and vision did come with plenty of bottlenecks, reveals Alzaabi. "The most challenging aspect of my entrepreneurial journey so far has been that in the beginning, I would get that reassuring and satisfying feeling of having created this amazing idea and an amazing pitch deck, but in the end, one has to work hard day and night to achieve the end goal," he explains. "I learned that however much I know, I still have a long way to go, and that itself is a motivation to keep going. For example, when I launched the product, I remember when I first pitched the idea at GITEX 2022 [an annual tech and startup event held in Dubai]- I thought it would be easy: I would pitch, get an investment, and be able to grow in a really short amount of time! But starting a business or a startup is one of the most tiring endeavors, and it's really a long-term investment in a way. But after all that hard work, you would have something that you created, and that you would be proud of."

While Alzaabi's participation at GITEX 2022 was the first step in realizing his entrepreneurial ambitions, it was a pitch competition held by Sandooq Al Watan, a UAE-based not-for-profit organization, in January 2023 that truly catapulted his business venture forward. "Winning the Sandooq Al Watan pitch gave us a sort of validation and motivation to keep on working," Alzaabi says. "We were able to get two other grants that allowed us to go from an idea to launching the product, And that's what's amazing about this country that there are so many opportunities that would allow you to grow your business and achieve what you wanna achieve. I then participated in Shark Tank Dubai [the UAE adaptation of the popular American business reality show, Shark Tank] as well. I initially came on to the show with an offer for 15% of AED600,000, but after some negotiations with Elie Khouri -one of Shark Tank Dubai's judges, and the CEO of UAE-based alternative investment firm, Vivium Holding- we were able to settle at 22%. To be honest, when we first applied to Shark Tank Dubai, we didn't really have to think much about it, but after going on the show, and being able to get a deal, it felt surreal. I feel that with the backing of Vivium Holding, who are experienced in the marketing field, we will be able to reach the goal that we've set our eyes on. We are finally on the right track to create something that would change the pet care industry! The most important thing about being an entrepreneur is patience. It took me a year to launch the product, and while it was a long time, it was worth it."

Armed with the lessons he has learned so far, Alzaabi is now dreaming bigger when it comes to what's next for Pet Republic- but he also says he's decided to take things one step at a time. "Our plan for 2024 is to expand throughout the Emirates, bringing all parties of the pet care industry in one place," he declares. "And while this is a challenging endeavor, I have an amazing team and mentors around me who will help us reach that goal."

Related: From Grill To Greatness: Eleven Green Co-Founders Sultan And Kinda Chatila On Driving A Winning Venture In The UAE F&B Industry
Aalia Mehreen Ahmed

Features Editor, Entrepreneur Middle East

Aalia Mehreen Ahmed is the Features Editor at Entrepreneur Middle East.

She is an MBA (Finance) graduate with past experience in the corporate sector, and was also co-founder of CyberSWIFTT- an anti-cyberbullying campaign that ran from 2017-2018 as part of the e7: Daughters of the Emirates program.

Ahmed is particularly keen on writing stories involving people-centric leadership, female-owned startups, and entrepreneurs who've beaten significant odds to realize their goals.


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