Why 2 entrepreneurs quit their corporate jobs to build a Rs 1.5 Cr petcare startup
Tucked away in the lush green surrounds, off Sarjapur Main Road in Bengaluru, the Petcart Nest is a haven for your furry friends. With 70 spacious bamboo huts and a sprawling facility spread over two acres, including a 1,800 sq ft swimming pool and two lush 12,000 sq ft play areas, the place serves as both, a getaway for animals and as an overnight lodging and daycare centre.
It goes without saying that Petcart Nest is a one-of-its-kind pet resort – although of late there has been a surge in such establishments – that has become a near essential for the pet-friendly city that is Bengaluru.
Whether it’s a work trip or a vacation abroad that’s keeping you away from home, you can trust your pets to the care of trained professionals at the facility.
The pet resort, however, is just one of the many services provided under the umbrella of solutions by Petcart, a one-stop destination for pet care. The Bengaluru-based startup tends to a host of other needs and service requirements as well. Much needed in the light of rapid urbanisation, changing perception towards pets (the transition from pet-owners to pet-parents), and an increase in the number of millennials and Gen Z opting to adopt.
Three pet-care verticals, under one umbrella
“We broadly divided pet needs into three parts after our initial research – the essentials (daily requirements of the pet), health and wellness (wellbeing of the pet), and hospitality (boarding, recreation, etc.),” says Shekar Gaonkar, who started Petcart along with Co-founder Nilendu Maiti in 2016.
In the “essentials” department, he explains, they offer services relating to a pet’s daily requirements through the ecommerce portal. Under health and wellness, Petcart acts as a catalyst in connecting pet parents with veterinarians across the city. And for hospitality, it provides services like boarding and lodging, grooming, recreation for pets, celebrations of various occasions, etc.
All three verticals fall under one umbrella, with the extensive use of technology serving as their prime differentiator.
“Currently, under our wellness vertical, we use technology to create a digital token system and appointment management system for vets, apart from giving options for pet parents to digitise their loved one's medical history and for scheduling vaccination, deworming reminders,” Shekar says.
Besides this, vets also have an option to schedule vaccination reminders and send notifications on new initiatives/health-related communications.
From pet parents, for pet parents
At the heart of Petcart’s three-pronged approach, the goal is to provide a holistic solution for all pet care needs and requirements, starting with healthcare products and ranging through daily essentials. And this idea, interestingly, is rooted deeply in the personal experiences of the men, avid animal lovers themselves, behind the startup.
“My co-founder, Nilendu, used to have an African Grey bird named Nemo,” Shekar recalls. “When Nemo was suffering from an infection [he realised that] there were no avian experts in Bangalore at that point of time. He had to travel to Mumbai to meet an avian expert for Nemo’s treatment.”
These problems triggered a realisation for Nilendu; his heart went out to pet parents who had to undergo similar trouble to ensure their pets’ wellbeing.
“We realised that the industry was very unorganised and there were a lot of gaps,” says Shekar, adding, “We wanted to organise this space.”
The duo had years of corporate experience under their belt. Shekar has worked for almost a decade and a half with companies such as Bharati Airtel, Nokia, Vodafone, Tata Docomo, and Gillette, while Nilendu has names like IDenizen Smartware and Adecco India on his resume. With one vision in mind, the two came together to start Petcart.
Interestingly enough, the founders had initially zeroed in on Smart Pet as the moniker for their venture. But not completely satisfied with the idea the name represented, they switched to Petcart, where cart “symbolises the bouquet of services we offer for all your pet needs”.
Expansion plans, and the Rs 1.5 Cr revenue target
With an estimated market size of $430 million by 2020, the Indian pet care industry is a fast-growing segment. In fact, the Petcart co-founder explains that the pet ecosystem has expanded beyond dogs with pet parents adopting cats and birds. This promising trend paints a bright future for early players providing holistic services in this department.
As for Petcart, which was bootstrapped with Rs 15 lakh and which raised Rs 1.75 Crore before launching their pet care resort, these stats indicated a step in the right direction.
Starting with just an ecommerce portal, the company has served close to 14,000 furry friends (since inception) with its integrated initiatives spread across three verticals.
“Petcart Nest is witnessing about 20 percent growth in customer base month on month, and we have reached about 15 percent appointment conversions,” says the founder. “We will be touching revenue of close to Rs 1.5 crore by the end of 2019 with a year-on-year-growth rate of more than 100 percent.”
He adds, “We are looking to expand beyond Bengaluru and are in the process of raising larger funds.”
That Petcart is poised to take over other major Indian markets soon is evident. But revenue figures and big numbers apart, the founders say the one thing that truly motivates them is the experience of satisfied pet parents and their adorable, furry and feathery friends.
(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)