How this woman entrepreneur's pet grooming brand clocked Rs 1 Cr revenue
More and more people are enjoying the company of their furry friends to an extent that irked Pope Francis to claim that opting for pets such as cats and dogs over children is a “new form of selfishness”.
But it also highlights the growing petcare and pet parenting industry across the world. India was home to over 21 million pet dogs in 2019 and is expected to reach over 31 million by 2023, according to Statista. In fact, India is the fastest growing market for petcare – including pet food, pharmaceuticals, grooming, toys and accessories, which is set to become a $490 million market by 2022.
Nishma Singhal was running a men’s grooming business when she saw a huge market potential in pet parenting after her niece adopted a Shih Tzu and named it Oreo.
“When he came into our lives, we pampered him with a lot of retail shopping and spoke to many shopkeepers and other dog parents to know which products were better, their specialty, and the price points, and saw a market gap,” she tells HerStory.
She noted that international products had better quality, but were more expensive, and domestic products at cheaper rates compromised on quality. This led Nishma to start, a homegrown natural and paraben-free pet grooming products at affordable rates. The name is inspired by the Italian word ‘Giovane,’ which means youthful and energetic.
Born and raised in Delhi, Nishma holds BTech in cosmetic technology from Padmashree Dr DY Patil Vidyapeeth in Mumbai and MBA with specialisation in perfumery and fragrances from Università degli Studi di Padova in Italy. She also pursued a European fragrance and cosmetics master from ISIPCA in Paris.
Navigating the petcare industry
Based in Surat, Nishma emphasised on research and development to formulate the right products and ran a survey among retailers and pet parents to understand their experience.
In September 2020, Zoivane Pets officially launched a few products such as dog and cat shampoos, detangling spray and sent it to celebrities like Shilpa Shetty and Athiya Shetty who are dog parents.
Formulated in-house and manufactured at third party facilities, the brand has more than 60 products priced between Rs 200 for a 100ml shampoo and Rs 5,000 for a 5L shampoo.
It claims to have sold more than 10,000 products with presence in nearly 400 retail stores across the country and online stores like Amazon, Flipkart, Nykaa, Myntra, and Meesho.
Besides ensuring the products are pocket-friendly, the entrepreneur focused on fragrances and appealing packaging to attract customers.
“People will always look at the packaging and smell the products first. So, we have focused on appealing packaging and research and development with great focus on fragrances that stand out…today customers tell us that their dogs smell better than them,” she says.
Funding and the way forward
Nishma had always wanted to be her own boss and thus entrepreneurship came naturally to her, but it was not without any challenges. At present, the challenge ahead for Zoivane Pets is marketing and reaching its target audience of pet parents in India. It shares the marketspace with competitors like PetVeda and Captain Zack, among others.
However, Nishma says the brand has consciously put off spending on social media and performance marketing till now and relied on organic growth.
“We didn’t want to burn money and have remained profitable. The idea was to focus on R&D because if there is no good product at all, then what do you market? I had learnt CorelDRAW and Photoshop during a sabbatical period and was able to make the initial packaging designs myself because we didn't want to exhaust the budget in marketing,” she says.
Started with an initial investment of Rs 25 lakh, it has already clocked a revenue of Rs 1 crore for the commercial year ending March 2022. In December last year, the startup raised its seed funding of $100,000 from a digital-first and community-based investment platform We Founder Circle.
Thanks to Zoivane Pets’ sales-oriented strategy, Nishma did not have to worry about funding as the business remained profitable and many investors approached the entrepreneur.
“We chose the We Founder Circle for the team because they are not just putting in the money, but also want to partner with you to scale and provide a rich network of people and community to tap for help,” she says.
To aspiring and women entrepreneurs, Nishma advises to look for a problem to solve and its place in the market and simply start working towards it.
Edited by Megha Reddy