Aye, Aye, Captain

Here's how the founder of Captain Zack took inspiration from his nine-year-old dog to build a brand.

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With owners, these days, spending heftysum of money on their pets' grooming, many petcare brands have sprung up across the country in the past few years. One such brand — popular for its quirky product names and a fuss-free range for dogs — is Captain Zack. The pet grooming startup recently secured a pre-series A funding of $1.5 million from a consortium of investors.

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The Beginning

Mohit Lalvani, a serial entrepreneur, has never shied away from his love for pets. But when he sold his beauty care specialities distribution business to an American MNC in 2015, he knew he wanted to start a petcare brand. And his dog Zack inspired him to take up a business venture in the petcare domain. When Lalvani would take Zack out for a walk, he noticed that his dog was the leader among other dogs, who always followed him. While that would seem just like a normal story, in Lalvani's mind that brought about his brand story for Captain Zack. "The brand emulates the personality of my dog. Zack is considerate: we don't use plastic chemicals. Zack is caring: we really look into what's best suited for your dog and Zack's cool: the product names and packaging is designed to be cool and funky," says Lalvani.


As there is a set of FDA approved formulations for products designed and produced for humans, there's no such set of standards for pets. Lalvani believes that this lack of regulations meant that there was no quality control happening for petcare products. Most companies do not even mention all the ingredients on their labels. Captain Zack, however, makes sure it is mentioning every ingredient that goes into the making of products on their labels. "Pets are constantly itching so our products, besides the aesthetic benefits, work on reducing the itching drastically and so that the dogs are healthier," he says. Their products are parabenfree, and have natural active ingredients, while being anti-irritant, antibacterial, anti-fungal and antiseptic. Its products' fragrance comes from essential oils. "We chose lemon grass and citronella for Excuse Me Fleas shampoo as these oils act as ticks and fleas repellents. Similarly, lavender and chamomile essential oils we use in Bling On The Shine are known for the calming effect they have on pets," Lalvani says.

Paw'se For Appreciation

Captain Zack's range of products have an interesting set of names like Excuse me, Fleas, Tick'et to Fleadom, Shea Pleasure Sniffing You etc. While the manufacturing is outsourced, the branding, packaging and formulation of shampoos and other products is done by them. Lalvani says, "It's all about convenience. If you have ever tried giving your dog a bath, you'd know it's not an easy task." The simple structure of the bottles has been made keeping in mind that when you are giving your dog a bath, you have to hold your dog while also opening the bottle. "We designed the product keeping in mind that some dogs are hydrophobic too," he says. With three stakeholders in the market – vets, pet shops and groomers – Lalvani had to get the pricing right. "A lot of people didn't want to pay much for an Indian product. But our product takes care of your dog's health without any side effects," he says.

Presence: 400 pet stores/10 grooming salons across 15 cities

Revenue: 1.5 crores in the first year

Funding: Pre-series A funding of $ 1.5 million

No. of Products: Nine

(This article was first published in the December issue of Entrepreneur Magazine. To subscribe, click here)