To Cracking the $400M Market, Pet Sutra is Positioning Itself to be an Assistant for Your Pet Care
Gurgaon-based PetSutra plans to focus on increasing its product portfolio while developing the technology features further in the next 18 months.
The pet industry is growing internationally at close to a 5% CAGR, with the emerging markets including India showing significantly higher growths of upwards of 15% primarily due to higher adoption and increasing disposable incomes. This growth has led to the division of the pet industry into food, OTC, accessories, vet care, grooming, training, boarding and live animal purchases. Observing this growth, a lot of startups have come up with interesting concepts to spread awareness among the pet parents about their pets.
One such startup is PetSutra, founded by Amol Sharma. As the pets have become a significant member of the family, PetSutra is an initiative to improve the overall life of pets. It is a drive to help the pet parents by providing exact solutions to the problems they face with their pets. From food to pet accessories it creates pet focused products which are safe and nutritious and uses accurate data to help pet parents to look after their pets better. It offers organic food for pets, considering the attitude shift towards organic consumables for a sustainable planet and also the health of the pets.
Its accessories are designed keeping in mind the different stages in the life of the pets. The blogs that are available on the website contain a complete guide to pet-parenting. The mobile application contains features like pet care, pet date, etc., and would soon come up with AI interface that would make it easier to use.
Gurgaon-based PetSutra plans to focus on increasing its product portfolio while developing the technology features further in the next 18 months. While PetSutra products are already now present in the USA, its focus is to tap all major developed markets and be a truly ‘Made in India’ startup for global markets.
BW Disrupt interacts with Amol Sharma, Founder, PetSutra and spoke to him
What was the problem you wanted to solve, or the opportunity you wanted to explore with PetSutra?
There are a large number of pet owners in India who do not have product choices in popular categories, and in fact a lot of products (such as pet wearable) are not present in India or not largely used because of lack of critical mass in the past. But this is fast changing, with young professionals entering the pet care space. They are focusing on getting the right product and services to pet parents and educating them. Right from what pet you adopt, to what needs do you have to cater to at each life-stage of the pet, there are now people who are guiding pet parents. The increased awareness and availability of pet services at affordable prices will drive better care for pets. The greatest driver for me was to improve the overall life of pets and that would happen if pet care was data driven just as other fields related to humans are. Just imagine, if you could help a 5 year old Labrador with the exact requirements catering to its needs and provide structural intervention and guidance to pet parents. It would improve longevity, quality of life and overall companionship. We at PetSutra will create pet focused products which are safe and nutritious. And use data to help pet parents to look after their pets better. Further, in our journey I realized that there are some very like-minded small players who do not get market access because of the distribution scenario, so PetSutra will surely ensure we provide them reach not only in India but globally, by leveraging global e-commerce trade.
Who are your target consumers – in terms of age, location, income group etc.?
Urban Pet parents (SEC A), between the ages of 18 to 40 where e-commerce contribution to overall sales is as high as 50%.
How do you reach out to them? What are your marketing strategies?
Our predominant strategy has been to connect via content, both informative and fun. The idea is to ensure that the consumer laps up nuggets of information vital for proper bringing up of the pet while enjoying snippets of fun.
What is the average price range of your products? What is the average basket size?
The average basket size is roughly Rs. 550/- in India and $25 in the USA as we do not currently deal with Pet Food. We will introduce a few Pet Food brands to our portfolio very soon, with a view to provide greater variety to pet parents.
How are you funded? Have you raised VC funding? Are you planning to raise external funding soon? How much investment has gone into PetSutra so far?
We are currently funded by Angel investors and are planning to raise a bridge round in the next quarter. We have invested close to $500K till now.
Why the name PetSutra? What does it mean?
Sutra in Sanskrit means a rule. So we wanted to establish a brand which prescribes a certain set of rules in order to ensure the best for the close to ~1 billion pets globally. And yes, we are a startup made in India for markets globally so why not have some element of our country in the name. Hence, the name PetSutra.
How do you ensure quality of products?
We ensure the quality by only selecting manufacturers who have the requisite license to sell globally. In case of foods, we will introduce smaller brands only post verifying their nutritional content.
Who do you consider your competition? How are you different from them?
As we are playing across three pillars: Information, Connection and Fulfillment, we do face stiff challenge as there are established players in all three. We plan to grow through meaningful collaborations which benefit the entire ecosystem of pet parenting, and hence all competitors are potential collaborators too.
What are the biggest challenges you have faced? How do you overcome them?
From a fundraising point of view, it has been tough as it has taken a lot of convincing to create belief that an Indian start-up in the consumer space can do business globally. The only way is persistence, and self-belief.
How big is the market you are targeting? What is the source of your market data?
The Indian market is close to $400 million while the global addressable market is about $80 billion. This is publicly available data.
How many categories and SKUs do you have? What are your most popular products?
We currently are available in Treats and Accessories. Our expansion to the next stage includes, Food, Grooming, Cookies and Biscuits. The most popular product is our Yak milk based treat Chewlicious.
Which city are you based in? What are the advantages and disadvantages?
We are based in Gurgaon, and are happy about the talent pool available. No perceivable disadvantages at this stage.
Do you plan to open offline stores in addition to exhibitions?
Not in this phase and not before 2020, as it is a CAPEX intensive task, and we would rather focus on Net Profits.
Who are your partners in the larger ecosystem? How do you manage logistics?
We manage logistics through 3PL currently as it does not make financial sense to create an independent logistics arm at this stage
How big is your team?
We are a very small team of 5 employees, with key support activities outsourced to agencies as per their expertise
As a business, what are the metrics that matter to you?
Customer Acquisition, Gross Margins, Repeat Buyers
How has your sales and revenue grown since inception?
It’s been slow and steady with our ambition being quickly scale to a run rate of 1CR a month in the next 6 months
What are your targets for FY 2019?
Our target is to open up new markets and geographies, besides hitting monthly profitability. Also, to carefully curate our range of SKUs to include a range of about 1000 new products.
Apart from PetSutra, other startups working in the pet care segment include TailsLife, Heads Up For Tails, Waggle.in, Collar Folk, Doggie Dabbas, Dogsee Chew and DogSpot.in. TailsLife raised funds in a bridge round from existing investor Exfinity Ventures chairman V Balakrishnan in September 2017 and prior to this it received a seed round of Rs 60 lakhs in 2015. After raised $1 million in seed funding in February 2016, Heads Up For Tails had secured $2 million from a group of high-net-worth individuals in a pre-Series A round in January 2017. DogSpot.in had also received an undisclosed amount of funding from Ratan Tata, chairman emeritus of Tata Sons, in January 2016.
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