Gurugram-based PetSutra provides information on pet parenting, connects pet lovers, and sells pet products through its ecommerce platform.
At a Glance
Founder: Amol Sharma
Year it was founded: 2016
Where is it based: Gurugram
The problem it solves: An ecommerce platform for pet parents that also provides information and tips on pet care and pet lifestyle
Sector: Pet care
Funding: Angel funded – Michael Hickey (ex P&G) and Mayank Sharma (a senior employee at IBM research lab)
Like new parents, even pet parents need help and guidance. Whether it is taking care of your pets, or information on what to feed them, Gurugram-based PetSutra gives you answers, and information on everything related to pets. The startup aims to build a holistic pet ecosystem by providing information, connecting pet lovers, and delivering pet products.
Amol Sharma, the Founder of PetSutra, is an alumni of XLRI. The idea of an ecommerce platform catering only to pet lovers was on his mind for around a decade, but the eureka moment came in 2016.
“One day, I saw a young girl feeding glucose biscuits to stray dogs, and that’s when I realised that though her intentions were noble, I wished she knew she was actually doing more harm than good to the dogs," says Amol.
"Our business pillars are - information, connection, and fulfillment," he says. Besides its ecommerce website, the startup has a blog to share information, as well as an app which is in the beta stage.
The startup’s core team consists of just five members. Amol says, “The essence to build the core team was they need to be a pet lover.” Apart from Amol, Akshay Kanitkar (35), Director at PetSutra, takes care of the operations.
The PetSutra platform not only sells toys, but also other pet products like nail clippers, socks, puppy pads, and yak milk treats under the Chewlicious brand. “Our app is also a C2C platform for pet lovers to connect with each other to talk on various issues like pet dating for dogs, nutrition for pets, etc,” says Amol.
The platform also connects users with registered breeders (who are licensed by Kennel Club of India) from whom they can buy various breeds. “We at PetSutra create pet-focused products, which are safe and nutritious. We use data to help parents look after their pets better. We also use geo-tagging to help users find out pet-friendly restaurants, and pet spas near their location.”
The PetSutra app is available on both Android and iOS platforms with limited functions at present.
PetSutra was launched in mid-2016, and not only did they decide to outsource key functions to SMEs, but ensured all its stakeholders were those who loved pets. “We are working with SMEs on contractual basis for foods, wearables, products, etc. The major challenge has been convincing investors on how a startup based in India can target the global audience. We have worked our way through it by persistent conversations,” says Amol.
The market opportunity for PetSutra is huge - there are 26 million pets in India, of which 90 percent are dogs, and the rest are cats and other animals. There are an estimated one billion pets across the globe.
In a dog-eat-dog world that is ecommerce in India, PetSutra chose to collaborate with competitors for better returns. “Doggie Dabbas is a startup that is making treats. So, if we sell more Doggie Dabbas treats, in the process, we will also make more revenue,” explains Amol.
There are several other pet-focused startups in the burgeoning pet care market. Gurugram-based DogSpot.in, in 2016, received an undisclosed amount of funding from Ratan Tata, Chairman Emeritus of Tata Sons, while Waggle.in helps dog owners find temporary homes, Collar Folk plans holidays for people who want to take their pets along with them on vacations, and Bengaluru-based Dogsee Chew offers organic treats.
Amol says the tough competition is the reason the firm is spending more on technology than products. Technology will take the firm across geographies, he says. “We are trying to make a quick gain in the Indian market in the next three to four years, and then the focus will shift to western market,” says Amol.
Talking about revenue and numbers, Amol says PetSutra has more than 10,000 active customers, and its major markets are NCR, Mumbai and Bengaluru. The primary revenue stream currently is product sales, while other smaller revenue streams include advertising and booking commissions.
Amol says that over the next one year, the company will further enhance technology for additional revenue streams while increasing the throughput of its ecommerce revenue through new product categories of foods, grooming products and accessories.
The startup is currently funded by angel investors who specialise in Artificial Intelligence (AI), app design, retail and corporate finance, and are helping the company structure the business and technology. It raised Rs 95 lakh from angel investors Michael Hickey (a former P&G official) and Mayank Sharma (a senior employee at IBM research lab).
The current Indian pet care market is estimated at $300 million-$350 million, and is growing at the rate of 20 percent annually. Amol says, “By 2020, the market size will grow to $400 million, and we would like to have a large pie in that. By March 2019, we aim to increase our customer base from 10,000 to 1 lakh active customers. We also aim to achieve operational breakeven by March 2019.”
While its products are already available in the US, PetSutra also aims to tap all major developed markets and be a truly “Made in India” startup.