Why petcare startups are seeing growth in demand amid the pandemic

Anushka Iyer, CEO and Founder, Wiggles.in, and Rashi Narang, Founder, Heads Up For Tails, discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on pet parents and their business growth in a panel discussion with YourStory’s Daily Dispatch.
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As a direct consequence of people staying indoors amid COVID-19, an increasing number of people are adopting pets as furry companions. Most of these pet parents were either combating the loneliness that came with the pandemic or giving shelter to pets that were abandoned by owners over misinformation around pets being carriers of COVID-19. 

As the number of pet parents increased, the petcare startups, too, amped up their offerings and marketing strategies. According to Petex, India’s pet care market is expected to grow at 14 percent to become a $490 million industry by 2022. It is estimated to be the fastest-growing pet care market in the world, with the pet food market alone forecasted to hit $310 million by 2022. 

In a panel discussion with YourStory’s Daily Dispatch, Anushka Iyer, CEO and Founder, Wiggles, and Rashi Narang, Founder, Heads Up For Tails, address this rise in customer demand for pet products. 

“The pandemic has enabled a lot of people to bring pets home because they had more time to spend with them. Also, we have seen that people also had time to bond and not just be around. They realised they needed more products that could fill everyday needs,” says Rashi. 

Backed by Verlinvest and Sequoia Capital, Heads Up For Tails is an omnichannel petcare startup that recently raised $37 million in its Series A funding round. Taking into account the last few months of the pandemic, the brand is seeing a 100 percent year-on-year growth. 

Wiggles.in, which offers petcare products and veterinary services, also noticed a change in demand and customer behaviour.

“There was a huge surge in adoption. People wanted to understand petcare better so this worked well for us as well. We were hit with too many calls on our customer support,” says Anushka. 

After the pandemic hit, she adds, it took Wiggles.in 72 hours to get together a team that remained available to the customers to allay their fears of veterinary services being halted. The Pune-based startup is seeing a 7x growth in revenue year-on-year, according to Anushka. 

The road ahead 

Well into the festive season, Heads Up For Tails is working on customised gift boxes for Diwali and Christmas. The brand will be placing primary importance on building the content and community for its customers. To support its omnichannel presence, it has plans to increase the number of stores and invest in scaling technology for its online business. 

The Delhi-based company will be soon introducing spas as a service in its stores. 

“All our new stores are coming up with spas. We feel it makes the experience a little bit more wholesome for people and it's lovely to have dogs all over the stores,” says Rashi. Along with expanding the store count, the brand will also explore the Tier-II cities market. 

Diversification and expansion are also on the cards for Wiggles.in. The core focus of the company, Anushka explains, is healthcare. 

Anushka Iyer, Founder and CEO, Wiggles.in

The brand runs initiatives such as the ‘Anxious Pets Programme’ that aims to help pets cope with the anxiety around fireworks during festivals, and ‘Puppy Intro Plan’ which is aimed to help parents know what to expect after pet adoption. 

“We are trying to get into the life of a pet at the entry point, which is puppyhood, and then they are with us for a very long time,” explains Anushka. 

Epilepsy, a neurological disorder that affects the functioning of the brain, affects both humans and pets. Wiggles is working on a formulation for a product that treats this illness in pets specifically, as there are no products in the market for epilepsy in pets, who are actually prescribed medicines meant for human consumption, adds Anushka. 

The consensus of the panel was optimistic on the upcoming festive season and expect that the momentum of growth led by the pandemic will continue. 


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Edited by Kanishk Singh

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