If you are a pet owner then you’ve probably experienced the frustrating attempts of looking for the right vet for your pet when you move into a new city. Industry estimates peg the pet care business in India to be in the region of Rs 500 crore and on an upward swing. Though still niche compared to other commercial businesses, what appears odd is there is no single name that comes to mind when we think of pet care. And if all goes well, then Navi Mumbai-based Myvets Group of Companies may change all that.
Started by husband-wife team of Dr Madhurita and Yuvraj Kaginkar, Myvets has multiple business verticals related to pets and animals. Their pet care chain is called Myvets4pets which comprises of veterinary clinics for pet animals, lodging-boarding facility for pets, pet parlours, Myvets pesticide services and Myvets facility management.
Dr Yuvraj Kaginkar is a reputed veterinarian in the field of wildlife and has in the past worked with Bombay SPCA, rescue centres, and zoological parks. He has also been the wildlife advisor for many big industrial families of India, and heads the zoo consultancy business of Myvets.
Dr Madhurita is also a trained veterinarian from the Madras Veterinary College, and did her Masters from the UK, but decided to come back to India to chase her fortunes. “Most people who train in veterinary medicine prefer to open their own clinics or work in some government facility. We have also done that in the early part of our careers, but we felt there was so much more we could do and therefore branched out on our own,” shares Dr. Madhurita.
By being a one-stop shop for everything related to pets and animals, Myvets plans to fulfill the gap that presently exists in the market for an organized pet care entity. India has a large, unorganized and scattered market of over 7.50 lakh pets and over 2.25 lakh expensive exotic animals which need care and treatment. Some part of this demand is fulfilled by clinics present in various cities, but there is still much room for improvement and surely the possibility to setup an organized chain.
We quizzed Dr Madhurita why nobody thought of doing this in Mumbai, and she said it could be because of the high rentals and less risk-taking capability of people in the profession.
She pegs the Mumbai pet care market itself to be over Rs 300 crore per annum, growing at 25-30% CAGR, while the pet population in the Maximum City is expected to be growing in the region of 15-18% per annum, she says.
Slow and sure start
Started in 2011, Myvets is today a profitable business and growing well. However, their decision to startup was not met with much enthusiasm within the family. “Our families were much opposed to the idea of us giving up our cushy jobs to start up. We invested all our savings into the venture, even my wedding jewellery went in this,” smiles Dr. Madhurita. The two years of hard work has paid off and the many nay sayers have today come to appreciate and even support their endeavour.
Dr. Madhurita claims that a well-known corporate even made a very attractive bid to take over Myvets for a big sum of money. “This tells us that we are on the right path. Now that we have set the base and done all the ground work, they want to come and take it up. But that is not what we are building Myvets for,” she says passionately.
Zoo consultancy business
Another very attractive facet of Myvets Group of Companies is the zoo consultancy part of their business. This effort is being led by Dr Yuvraj who has published many scientific papers on wildlife care, treatment, surgery and management of exotic and endangered species. He has also been awarded the national award for his research paper on zoo event planning and management.
While there are various assignments in progress on zoo consultancy side, some of the things that Dr. Yuvraj has helped build include an open enclosure for chimpanzees in Sahara Aamby Valley city on the outskirts of Mumbai. They have helped restart a reptile zoo in Kolhapur which was being run by Shetkari Shiksha Mandal since the time of the British rule in India. “The reptile zoo was in a very dilapidated condition because they didn’t have enough funds to take care of the animals, and neither were there any doctors who knew how to handle them,” explains Dr Yuvraj. Now through the Myvets charitable trust and research centre, Dr Yuvraj and Madhurita are helping maintain the zoo.
After completing his veterinary education, Dr. Yuvraj started working with wild animals quite early and has witnessed first-hand the treatment and handling of the animals. “Most zoos employ a livestock supervisor to take care of wild animals. So people who treat cattle are called in if wild animals fall sick,” he says. One example he cities of poor zoo management is of Byculla zoo in Mumbai which gets anywhere between 50,000-60,000 visitors per day. The zoo today has been shut down because of lack of proper maintenance.
The zoos which have no potential to come up to the prescribed standards and norms may be refused recognition and asked to close down, say the couple. Since its inception in 1992, the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) has evaluated 347 zoos, out of which 164 have been recognized and 183 refused recognition. Out of 183 zoos refused recognition, 92 have been closed down and their animals relocated suitably. Cases of the remaining 91 derecognized zoos are currently under review. Therefore, a total of 183 zoos have to be revamped and redeveloped to maintain the standards as described by CZA, where every medium and large zoo have an approximate redevelopment cost of Rs 200 to 400 crore in the coming years.
Of this opportunity, Myvets has also bagged the redevelopment work of Jammu & Kashmir zoo and is in the run for many other tenders being put up by other states. Other projects under their belt are the enlargement of the reptile zoo in Kolhapur and the master planning of a petting zoo in Alibaug, Maharashtra. “Zoo consultancy is big abroad and even when our zoos in India need work to be done, international consultants are called in, who charge exorbitantly. We are confident of making a difference,” says Dr. Madhurita. Myvets is also working to build a butterfly garden and walk-in aviary (bird park) in Delhi.
This vast repertoire of work is handled by a team of 30 people in the organization. Dr. Madhurita takes care of all the operational part of the business, while Dr Yuvraj handles the execution part. This young startup has a promising start, and is proof that there are opportunities beyond just obvious areas like technology that can give rich rewards if tapped into.