How the death of his puppy led this stock trader to set up an end-to-end pet care startup in India
For dog parent Manish Paul, the passing away of his French mastiff bulldog puppy was the final straw. As someone who had had dogs since he was 9 years old, he wasn’t new to pet parenting, but being solely responsible for a puppy was new to him. As most pet parents do, he tapped the internet to find resources that could help him in his journey raising his new puppy.
While particulars around vets and pet hospitals were easily available online, the information was scattered, disorganised, and not very up to date. For other information, including pet groomers, trainers, and nutritionists, he had to turn to friends and family and take them at their word when they vouched for people.
When his puppy passed away suddenly because of a common dog ailment that many puppy parents deal with — bloat — he realised there was a severe lack of a pet community in India where problems, such as the one he’d faced, could be quickly dealt with. Had there been a pet parents’ community, Manish could have quickly messaged for advice, and been able to do something to save his puppy.
Most pet services in India are standalone ventures and not unified under one umbrella. Even discovery is a hassle, especially as one moves away from metro cities.
Manish decided to do something about it and launched, a platform that brings all sorts of pet services under one roof, and helps pet parents not only discover and access them easily, but also gauge the quality of the services from other pet parents’ reviews.
More importantly, the app-based platform, available on iOS and Android, helps pet parents keep track of their pet’s vaccination and deworming schedules, track their growth, and find other pets nearby for socialisation.
Before starting Monkoodog with Co-founders Himani Baisla and Abhishek Singh, Manish spent 13-plus years in the finance industry, specialising in derivatives and algo trading. Among the three of them, they have three dogs and two cats.
Screenshots of the Monkoodog app (Image credit: Monkoodog)
Business model and revenue
The platform has seen 3,000 pet registrations purely organically, without spending any marketing dollars and purely by word of mouth and via their own social media.
Manish started Monkoodog first as a YouTube channel where he made videos about pet care, home etiquettes, training etc, garnering over 50,000 subscribers and six million-plus views in total. After building a substantial following, he decided to build a business around it. He saw validation for his idea from the get-go after a number of the channel’s viewers pointed out gaps in the Indian pet services industry.
"The idea was to build a platform that would bring everyone in the pet services industry together, and get them to talk and collaborate with each other to service pet parents in the best way possible," Manish tells YourStory.
The startup does not currently generate revenue, and is solely focused on generating traction, signing up new service providers, enlisting the details of must-have services for pet parents such as crematoriums, pet cabs, ambulance services, rescuers, etc, as well as getting more pet parents to create their pet’s profiles on the app.
In the future though, Monkoodog aims to charge service providers a small commission for every appointment it helps book via its platform.
The startup is self-funded so far, with the founders investing over Rs 40 lakh of their own money. They are in the process of raising their first institutional round.
Along with services, the startup has also formed a community of pet parents on the app that can learn from each other, as well as connect for playdates offline.
Screenshot of Monkoodog app (Image credit: Monkoodog)
“Think of Monkoodog as Google + Facebook for pets. You can discover anything and everything related to your pets, and you can bank on a big community of pet parents for support as you go through the process of raising them,” Manish says.
Manish envisions Monkoodog becoming a one-stop-shop for information, as well as a centralised platform that stores pet information including vaccination, deworming, and grooming schedules.
In the future, the founder hopes to consolidate some pet service providers — groomers, trainers, pet-sitters etc — and bring them under the Monkoodog umbrella as an in-house offering. The service providers would operate as part of Monkoodog and use the platform to seek new clients.
“So the next time a pet parent is looking for a grooming service in a city they don’t live in, the Monkoodog tag will tell them this is a service they can trust,” Manish explains.
The startup has seen a lot of traffic and traction in the US, and is setting up a team to build its presence there. As per its internal data, India is its second-largest market. Its competitors in India include the likes of PetNest, Heads Up for Tails, and VetCo, among others.
The Indian pet care industry has more than doubled in size from Rs 1,594.8 crore in 2015, to Rs 3,701.99 crore in 2021, mostly led by pet products, foods, and services, a Euromonitor International report shows. Monkoodog is well-positioned to capture a share of this growing market.