These Startups Provide A Variety Of Services For Your Pets
Gone are the days when pets were restricted to the backyards of homes. With increase in urbanization, disposable income and growing awareness about animal rights, pet-parents are now a growing tribe. This opportunity has propelled start-ups in the pet sector to come up with different services and solutions to meet the needs of your four-legged friend.
A furry baby can bring lots of joys in the life of a pet-parent. And who better knows that than them the needs of their pooches. According to Petex India, the pet care market in 2017 was valued at $265 million and is expected to grow at 13.9 per cent annually to become a $430- million market by 2020. This growing market essentially caters to pet-parents who want the best of the best products and services to pamper their pooches. The pet start-up industry in India is run by pet-parents who identified gaps in the pet care industry that they felt personally passionate about and wanted to solve the problem for the larger community.
"I have had pet dogs in my house since I opened my eyes," shares Rashi Sanon Narang, founder of the premium retail store chain for pet care and grooming - Heads Up For Tails. The idea to start Heads Up For Tails took roots back in 2008 when Narang got herself her first personal dog, Sara, a Labrador, after getting married. "I wanted to buy some good quality accessories for Sara but I could not find anything of good quality and taste for her," claims Narang. It was then that she herself designed and made collars, leashes and other essentials for Sara. Her friends and family took notice of the high-quality and design of Sara's accessories and wanted similar products for their pets as well. "Heads Up For Tails started from a small kiosk in Select CityWalk Mall, Delhi," reveals Narang.
Similarly, Rashee Shah Kuchroo, Founder, Doggie Dabbas, was worried about the health of her dog. She realized that of her three dogs, the two that were on home-cooked food were healthy but not her big dog who was on packaged food. "I switched his diet to home-cooked food and could see the difference immediately. His coat gained back its lustre and he was active once again," declares Kuchroo. Her personal experience encouraged her to study dog and cat nutrition scrupulously and in no time she was making fresh home-cooked food for her relatives and friends dogs.
Rashi Sanon Narang, Founder, Heads Up For Tails, with her dog Sara
When the demand for food increased Kuchroo could no longer do daily fresh food for her clients. "Daily delivery was not working - there were too many orders to be sent on a daily basis. The Indian weather can also spoil the food if it has to travel long distances and it was very hard to coordinate all over the city," reveals Kuchroo. It is then that Kuchroo switched to a different model. "We introduced vacuum packaging and freezing of the food," divulges Kuchroo. This proved to be a viable business model. Kuchroo's Doggie Dabbas are available in 60 plus stores pan India and are also available online. Doggie Dabbas are available in Heads Up For Tail's retail stores as well.
Narang's Heads Up For Tails has expanded to 28 stores across India and has an online presence. The company has also recently closed its pre-series A funding and has till date raised $13 million.
Apart from Heads Up For Tails, Doggie Dabbas is also available at Petsutra, Goofytail and Poochtail. Kuchroo plans to launch a range of dry treats and is planning to expand the dabba service to different cities.
Doggie Dabbas are 100 per cent natural and human-grade. "Each dabba is high in nutritional value and is made keeping in mind the requirements of a dog," shares Kuchroo. Bhupendra Khanal, a second-time entrepreneur, left his first start-up, Simplify360, an analytical company to start something new. "I wanted to start something in the food sector," says Khanal. He planned to bring authentic Nepali cuisine in India and for the same visited the Himalayas. Fate had its way and the dog lover discovered a salubrious vegetarian treat for the doggies. Khanal recalls and laughs, "I knew that the food market was big when I ventured into it but did not think I will launch a treat for dogs." Khanal goes on and shares, "The pet food market is huge as well and Dogsee Chew brings an innovative, natural and healthy treat for dogs." In the Himalayas, Khanal saw dogs chewing hardened cow and yak milk cheese and that's how the idea to start the treat dawned on him. The product is FDA approved and is also exported in Spain, Canada, USA and other countries. Khanal claims, "The treat is very good for dogs dental health. The chewing helps them clean their mouth and the treat provides them with protein." The product is natural and human-grade. In 2018, Khanal launched dried fruit and vegetable treats for dogs. All the products offered by Khanal are vegetarian.
Bhupendra Khanal, Founder, Dogsee Chew with his dog Mowgli
Apart from pet care and pet food, one of the major concerns for pet parents is pet health. Kunal Khanna, founder Vivaldis, lost his three-year-old Cocker Spaniel to cancer. During her treatment, it hit him hard that there was a serious lack of quality medical infrastructure for pets. "I had experience in the healthcare sector with stints at GlaxoSmithKline and Mcure. I used my past experiences to start Vivaldis, a pet health and pharmaceutical company in 2014," says Khanna.
Vivaldis Health and Foods is bringing the top-class medical solutions for pets in India. The brand also has its own Research and Development lab that is working to come up with more medicines. Talking about the importance of an enterprise like Vivaldis, Khanna shares, "There are companies that are targeting pet accessories and food but there are no players in the pet healthcare sector. Nowadays many of the pets, just like humans are contracting various lifestyle diseases like diabetes and arthritis. These diseases can be treated but sadly most of the time go undiagnosed or untreated."
Vivaldis is growing 50 per cent year-on-year basis and is focusing on innovation. "In India, there were no medicines for dogs suffering from cancer. We introduced it," claims Khanna. Vivaldis is going to open 12 state-of-the-art diagnostic centres in India for pets. The company also holds a lot of training programmes for the veterinarians.
Kunal Khanna, Founder, Vivaldis with his dog
Likewise, Devanshi Shah, who lost her five-year-old Havanese dog Hazel as there was no blood available for transfusion, started PetKonnect in October 2019 to build awareness and a network of pet-parents. The app is an aggregator of pet service providers and has blogs informing pet parents related to pet health and care-related queries. Shah shares, "On PetKonnect we have over a hundred associates and it is growing on a daily basis. We also have an aggregation of private ambulances and NGOs who one can call if they find a stray animal in need of one." PetKonnect is currently working on bringing the technology of cross-matching, through which dogs can donate blood to other dogs who are in its need. "Building a community and spreading awareness are the two pillar-stones of PetKonnect," declares Shah.
Dogs Day Out
After covering the health and lifestyle needs of your dog, you want to maximize on the fun side. Going on a much-awaited family vacation is a dilemma for pet-parents as most of the holiday destinations are not pet-friendly. Rukmini Vaish, founder Collarfolk, who herself is a pet-parent of four dogs, did not want pet-parents to make this tough choice. "When you plan a vacation, you may want to take your pooches along with you as it is more fun and the family feels complete," shares Vaish. Talking about her journey of starting CollarFolk - an online platform for finding and booking pet-friendly vacation spots, Vaish reveals, "When we wanted to take our dog - Kiki, a Golden Retriever, along with us for a holiday, we realized there are not many options. Hotels and resorts didn't even understand what it is to be pet-friendly." Vaish then rolled her sleeves up and went from one cluster to another - bringing on board various properties and resorts for holidays that are pet-friendly. "There was no standard definition of what is pet-friendly.
Rukmini Vaish, Founder, CollarFolk with her dog Kiki
The company has received two rounds of seed funding from angel investors. CollarFolk dreams to be "the one-stop trip advisor to pet-families" and makes about 50 bookings a month.
Arjun Mathai, the founder of Waggle, had a slightly different solution for travelling pet-parents. Waggle is a platform that helps discover a vacation home or the host home for your pets while you are out vacationing. "The host homes are carefully tested and selected after we are convinced that they can properly look-after the pet," shares Shubha Iyer, co-founder Waggle, who started her journey as a pet host. Waggle was founded in 2013 and currently has a presence in Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi NCR, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, Pune. Waggle lets pet-parents enjoy their holidays without any guilt of neglecting the furry ones. Talking about the expansion plans, Iyer shares, "Our immediate plans are to increase conversions on the platform and ensure that more dogs find the perfect homes for their vacay. We also want to leverage tech to capture more data about each of our registered dogs to provide a personalized experience in selecting the right home for each doggo."
1. Heads Up For Tails
Founder – Rashi Sanon Narang
Founding year – 2008
Presence - 28 stores across India with an online presence. Spread across Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune, Chennai, Hyderabad
Expansion Plans - To open more retail outlets and venture into technology products for animals.
2. Doggie Dabbas
Founder –– Rashee Shah Kuchroo
Founding year – 2011
Presence - Both online and offline. 1 independent retail store in Mumbai and available in 65 plus other pet care stores.
Expansion Plans - Launching a new range of pet treats and expand dabba services to different cities.
Founder –– Kunal Khanna
Founding year – 2014
Presence - A strong distribution system in place, covering all 29 states in India, with a presence in all Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities.
Expansion Plans - Launching more diagnostic centres exclusively for companion animals.
4. Dogsee Chew
Founder –– Bhupendra Khanal
Founding year – 2015
Presence - Online pan-India. Exported in Spain, Canada, USA and other countries.
Expansion Plans - Launching more treats and strengthening the distribution system.
Founders –– Devanshi Shah
Founding year – 2019
Presence - online. City - Mumbai
Expansion Plans - Expand the networks to other cities starting with New Delhi and Hyderabad.
Founder –– Rukmini Vaish
Founding year – 2016
Presence - Online
Expansion Plans - Continue to add pet-friendly stays and experiences in new destinations each year to expand presence pan India.
Founders ––Arjun Mathai, Shubha Iyer
Founding year – 2013
Presence - Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, NCR region, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, Pune
Expansion Plans - Increase the number of host homes and cities.
(This article was first published in the November 2019 issue of Entrepreneur Magazine. To subscribe, click here)