With 7K pets on its platform, Mumbai startup DoggieTheApp claims to be the Practo Ray for your furry babies
One can say DoggieTheApp found its beginnings on the fateful day Amit Verma visited a pet store five years ago. He had no intention of spending a buck.
“A cute little cocker spaniel came running to me and I ended up spending a lakh that evening,” he recalls. Amit is now the pet dad of Spock, the cocker spaniel.
However, in the course of time, little Spock faced a couple of health issues due to unethical breeding, and Amit ended up “spending hours on the internet looking for services, but it was all too scattered and difficult to make any sense of.”
Hence, Amit started speaking with other pet parents and in 2018 started work on the DoggieTheApp platform to make it a one-stop solution for all pet parents’ needs.
DoggieTheApp Founder Amit Verma with Spock, his pet cocker spaniel and the inspiration to start up.
The Mumbai-based platform allows people who do not have a pet yet, but wish to know if they are ready for one, to get one for a short time using its ‘home-boarding’ feature. The platform also connects various pet service providers with pet parents. However, DoggieTheApp is not just for dogs and serves all pets.
“The biggest problem in today’s pet industry is the number of people who get a pet and then don’t know how to handle them. We ensure pet parents are well-informed and get proper support during their testing times. And if they can’t, we will help find a new home for them, and not let them off on the streets,” says Amit.
Registered as Chien Technologies, DoggieTheApp is also the official pet partner for Hollywood film A Dog’s Journey (2019) in India.
“Honestly, the real inspiration of this entire business is Spock,” says Amit.
DoggieTheApp is a platform that connects various service providers with pet-parents. Their other product, VETolution, is a vet clinic management platform.
“It is just like Practo Ray, but for vets,” says Amit.
Every time a prescription is made, the parent receives a download link to the DoggieTheApp. Once the app is downloaded, the pet parent’s profile is created in the backend to reduce the on-boarding time.
This helps parents to book appointments at clinics, view prescription, buy pet food, and avail of other services through the platform.
For team DoggieTheApp, their biggest challenge has been on-boarding non-digital clinics and instilling in them the habit of digital record keeping through VETolution.
“We have been spending a lot of time in clinics trying to educate them on the benefits of digitisation and also helping them make the transition,” Amit says.
The team now has an on-ground sales team that brings clinics on board, and currently it has more than 15 clinics in Mumbai under its wing.
“Our first clinic was Dr Nihar Jaykar from Pawprints Vet clinic,” Amit says.
From dog parents to dog-preneurs
Apart from DoggieTheApp, Amit (36) has been running a sports and movie marketing company, called Just About Sportz and Showbiz, with Jennifer Merchant for eight years now. The duo has worked with IPL team Chennai Super Kings, and Madison Media.
Amit says he got in touch with his college friend Varun Dua (36), who earlier worked with US-based ICT Consulting, and telecom operators in the Middle East and Africa. DoggieTheApp was set up with Varun and Jennifer.
At present, the team has 12 people.
Pet care 101
Both VETolution and DoggieTheApp are free to use, and parents have to pay only for the products and services.
Some of its paid services include pet food subscription, home grooming, and vet chat. Home grooming services start at Rs 800, and go up to Rs 3,000. For vet chat, charges range between Rs 50 and Rs 500, depending on the duration.
“Soon, we will be the first platform to add audio and video chat services round the clock with veterinarians. We are also in the process of launching features like dog watching, training, and pet fashion modules,” Amit adds.
The startup gets its revenue from the services availed by the pet parents.
DoggieTheApp has more than 7,000 pets on its platform, out of which more than 350 are paying customers.
“Over 25 lakh worth of orders have been booked till now,” says Amit.
According to the startup, the growth rate has been up to 60 percent month-on-month for the last six months. In May this year, the startup clocked Rs 2.4 lakh in revenues, and it “will turn into Rs 3.5 lakh this month,” Amit adds.
“Our margins are above 10 percent, but profitability will take a few months due to high cost of customer acquisition,” Amit says.
According to Petex India, the pet care market in India was valued at $265 million in 2017, and is expected to grow at 13.9 percent annually to become $430 million market by 2020.
In terms of clinic management software, DoggieTheApp’s biggest competitor is VET Buddy. On the client end, it competes with For Love of All Pets, HeadsupforTails, and Dogspot.
However, DoggieTheApp is unique because it is not just a one-app company. “We are a platform service connecting various service providers with users,” Amit adds.
The startup is currently looking to raise funds and expand its demography.
“Over the next couple of years, we plan to be in at least seven major cities with direct presence, and another 15 cities for ancillary services,” Amit says.