A CA, an ops guy, and a techie join hands to bring everything that a pet lover needs on a single platformSindhu Kashyap
Delhi-based Home4pet is a one-stop online platform for every single pet product and service one could need.
In India, pet owners find it inconvenient and difficult to adequately demonstrate the love they have for their pets. Even the most basic of pet services are simply inaccessible, with few knowing how to do right by their pets. This was felt keenly by friends and animal lovers 46-year-old Rajeev Talwar, 47-year-old Avtar Singh Virk, and 46-year-old Vinod Agarwal.
One day, Rajeev, in a conversation along with an e-tailer company, realised that time was a catalyst in new and emerging buying patterns. But despite all the advances in this respect for the more mainstream categories, it was still challenging and time-consuming to find the right pet services. That was when he and his two friends decided to start Home4Pet.
The trio come from diverse backgrounds; Rajeev comes with a strong financial services background, and Vinod is a science graduate, while Avtar has a risk and fraud management degree from the US.
Working to build the platform
Rajeev points to the fact that while there were several options to buy grooming products and pet food online, there was no single platform that took care of all pet needs under one umbrella. The platform provides customers with an impressive range of products and services, which includes pet food, toys, designer clothing and bedding, accessories, vets on-call (allopathic and homeopathic), pet lab, pet boarding and lodging, pet taxi, pet ambulance, pet burial services, pet trainers, pet spas, pet cafe, pet photographer, pet security tags, pet rehabilitation and fitness equipment, pet magazines, pet birthday organisers, online pet training courses, and pet insurance.
The task, however, wasn’t easy. Rajeev says,
“We sat every day sketching a blueprint, searching through data on the net as to how to bring together this concept from paper to portal; endless sessions of tea in hotel lounges and brainstorming finally brought us to a list of services that could be started with from scratch.”
The most arduous task was to find the right people who offered these services with the same relentlessly undying passion and had operations in India. Rajeev adds that the trio travelled the length and breadth of the capital to speak with these people and educate them about Home4Pet’s concept. It took them over three months before they were finally able to onboard their first set of providers.
The market and focus
The selection of the initial team also proved to be a challenging and time-consuming exercise. Rajeev says that their concept is niche and specific to an audience that is extremely discerning. This meant that all who came onboard had to be sensitive, perceptive, and compassionate towards animals, with a genuine ability to understand the woes of the pet parents.
The portal went live in August 2016. The company had a social media presence prior to that, which helped in getting people curious enough to go to the website. According to the recently published India Pet Food Market Forecast and Opportunities, 2019, the pet care and food market in India is projected to cross $270 million by 2019.
Globally, wag.com (acquired by Amazon), ZoopPlus (Europe), and PetsatHome have been successful vertical plays in the pet care category. Apart from these, there are funded Indian players like Dogspot, Tailslife, and Heads Up for Tails that are standing out in the segment.
Dogspot claims to be the most visited pet portal in the country. It has delivered over 700,000 pet products across the country in 2015. Currently, it does about 60,000 orders on a monthly basis, with an average basket size of Rs 1,700.
Then there is DogMyCats, whose founder started out by selling products door to door. Another entrant in the space is Tupi’s Dhaba, which delivers home-cooked food for pets at your doorstep. If the numbers are to be believed, it is said that the India has experienced a double-digit growth in this market.
A report by Euromonitor estimates that the market for pets products in India is going to grow at 10-15 percent in a few years. Also, on an average, close to 600,000 pets are adopted every year, according to IIFT.
The major factors contributing to this exponential rise in demand include the rising number of nuclear families in urban areas and rising per capita disposable income. However, it is still a growing, niche market, and is yet to achieve international standards.
“We aim to have a pan-India presence and a brand that people associate with, in terms of a one-stop solution to all pet parent needs. Our next phase of expansion will be to tap into four other metros. Additionally, work is underway for a pet fitness application on Android, and making our presence felt globally too is being discussed with the right channels,” says Rajeev.