How Bengaluru-based startup Woofwoofnow aims to simplify pet care in a dog-eats-dog world
Sujit Paul and Rosie Paul were travelling with their pet, Daisy, when the dog fell sick. They returned to Bengaluru, but despite their efforts, Daisy did not make it. This was in 2016, and the heartbroken pet parents never really got over the shock.
A few years later, the couple decided to start Woofwoofnow, a telemedicine service for pet lovers. Founded in May 2019, the Bengaluru-based startup claims to be India’s first telemedicine platform for all pets.
“There is a dire need for an integrated animal health care platform. Our company is solving for this problem through its tele and video consultation platform. We help pet parents get non-emergency consultations from the comfort of their home,” says Sujit, Co-founder of Woofwoofnow.
Sujit and Rosie claim that there are 19 million pets in India, and many pet parents often have no access to proper care. This includes veterinary care, pet taxi services, or food delivery.
Keen to solve this problem statement, the founders started Woofwoofnow by launching pet taxi services in Bengaluru with a fleet of company-owned, company-operated vehicles.
Currently, the startup operates about 10 hatchbacks, sedans, and SUVs as pet taxis in Bengaluru.
In a bid to make the life of pet parents easier, Woofwoofnow is also working on online vet consultation from anywhere in the world, seamless chat with consultants, medical record management, a mobile medical dispensary, and pet merchandise.
The founder believes that what helps them stand apart in the “highly unorganised industry” is the fact that very few companies are operating in the“health and care" space and that there are almost no players in the telemedicine space for pets. The founders have invested Rs 18 lakh till now.
How does it work?
All a pet owner needs to do is download the Woofwoofnow app and avail of the services, be it health record management, video consultations, or the pet taxi services.
The startup’s first client was a street dog that was run over by a speeding vehicle, the founder’s recall. They rushed to the accident site and transported the dog to a vet’s facility. It was a free service.
Since then, Woofwoofnow claims to have developed a very strong and robust client base, which has been growing month on month. They have serviced more than 550 rides, taking pets to hospitals and clinics.
The platform also provides owners 24/7 worldwide access to their pet’s health history; these records are accessible from any device. The easy point of access means there’s no need to pay for expensive duplicate tests anymore, and potentially lifesaving health data is never more than a click away.
Pet owners can share this information with friends, family, boarders, and veterinarians, making movement with or without their four-legged friends easier than ever.
The platform’s telemedicine business is being tested, and the founders were unwilling to disclose details on the service or the number of veterinarians who will be a part of it.
Plans are also afoot to soon launch mobile clinics for dogs. Vans with doctors will drive up to homes and help diagnose pets’ ailments.
The business model
Currently Woofwoofnow’s business model focuses on garnering revenue from pet taxi operations in Bengaluru. It is experimenting with telemedicine and will go commercial in six months, charging for video consultations. Woofwoofnow also charges for online pet health records.
Six months after inception, Sujit says the startup is “growing at an organic pace”.
However, the founders did not want to disclose revenues at this stage, and say they can scale up faster than the many small clinics and offer a global service with telemedicine for pets.
“In such a niche and unstructured segment, setting up the business in the initial days was tough. For most startups, the initial funding is a challenge. This is especially true for a model like ours,” says Sujit, adding that Woofwoofnow is now keen to raise Series A funding.
Why pet care holds promise
According to Petex, India is the fastest growing pet care market in the world. Urbanisation, rise in nuclear families, changing perceptions towards pets, and pet ownership are driving the growth. The petcare market in India was valued at $265 million (Rs 1,700 million) in 2017 and is expected to grow at 13.9 percent annually to become a $430 million market by 2020.
“As the pet care markets in Europe and North America are heading towards saturation, Asia (with potential markets like India) is witnessing the entry of major international pet care brands. More number of Indian brands are rising to the occasion and focusing on domestic, Asian markets, and international markets,” Petex says.
As demand rises, a number of startups catering to pet parents have come up across India. These include PetKonnect, Petcart, Heads Up for Tails, Collarfolk, Waggle, Doggie Dabbas, DogSitter, and PetDom. The market is clearly wide open, and with pet parents willing to spend more on their furry friends, the opportunity is huge.
“The plan for the coming 18 months would be to add a hospital and mobile clinics after the Series A funding,” Sujit says. The company wants to perfect the model in Bengaluru before expanding to other cities.
Clearly, they’re barking up the right tree!
(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)