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The market for pet products, like kids’ products, is recession-proof: Anjali Kalachand

Shrugging off the disruptions of last year, businesses and agencies are looking for a strong revival in 2021. Adgully – as part of our annual TRENDING NOW endeavour – has been presenting the strategies and views of a cross-section of industry leaders as they go about reclaiming lost time and market opportunities and build for a stronger future, armed with the lessons of 2020.

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While the global pandemic has bought economies to a halt and massively disrupted businesses, it has also fuelled start-up dreams and we even saw several Indian start-ups achieve Unicorn status during the pandemic period. The times have never been better for the budding entrepreneurs to give wings to their start-up dreams.

Co-founded by Anjali Kalachand and Sachin Shetty, A Petter Life is an e-commerce platform catering to pet care, offering pet food, accessories, treats & toys, grooming & hygiene and more. The platform also offers advice on calorie counting for pets, pet parenting, etc.

In conversation with Adgully, Anjali Kalachand, Co-Founder, A Petter Life, speaks about her journey of becoming an entrepreneur, how digital was a blessing for their business and much more. 

Please take us through your journey as an entrepreneur. What motivated you to establish your start-up? What were you doing prior to turning an entrepreneur?

Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, I was a salaried employee working in the banking and finance space for a little over a decade. I founded Nutriwoof Natural Pet Solutions in January 2020 with the aim of educating pet parents about holistic natural solutions and a range of products to help facilitate their purchasing decision in choosing products that are chemical and preservative free, and non-toxic for their pets. I am also the co-founder of an online platform called A Petter Life, which went live in January 021. A Petter Life attempts to simplify pet-parenting. Both my ventures go hand in hand. Whilst I, amongst other things, create and manufacture natural and holistic products in Nutriwoof, on A Petter Life, we list a multitude of brands that share our philosophy. We also encourage homegrown businesses to list on our platform with a view to be all-inclusive.  

What gap did you want to fulfil with your start-up? What is the core business proposition?

When my business partner Sachin and his wife, Mahek, adopted their puppy Flash during the lockdown, we noticed that there wasn’t a trusted site you could go to which helped you make guided purchases and promoted holistic solutions. We realised how frustrating it could be for a first time pet-parent to get products that would be best suited for their pup. We also observed that homegrown brands were conducting business on a very small scale and wanted to make their wonderful products known and available pan India. As an attempt to fill the gap that we believe we identified, A Petter Life was born. Our core business proposition is to simplify pet-parenting. From providing nutritional advice to your dog to providing holistic solutions to ailments, we aim to help the consumer make informed decisions with respect to products best suited for their pet. We are also extremely accessible, where we act like personal shopping assistants and can assist you in making the right choice for your dog.  

How did you identify your TG? Did you carry out any feasibility study prior to starting your business?

Having run Nutriwoof Natural Pet Solutions, a start-up in the pet space for a year, I quickly came to realise that the target group was a diverse one and one growing at a rapid pace. In India, especially in cities, the growth in pets per household and the way we care for our pets, mimics the West. We did not carry out a feasibility study as such, however, we expect the pet market to be a fast growing one based on the following trends:

  • Pets are being kept as companion animals as opposed to reasons like guarding and pest control. 
  • The humanisation of pets, where pet-parents are now more discerning about the quality of life they give their pets and the decisions they make for them. This involves everything – from what they are fed, to the grooming products used, to toys that help stimulate activity, to mental stimulation toys… pets are being looked at more and more like kids nowadays and have as a result become an extension to the family. 
  • More and more households are getting pets nowadays, and we expect this number to keep growing exponentially.

What were the challenges that you faced in your start-up journey and how did you overcome them?

Being a start-up, the challenges were manifold and ranged from: 

  • Prioritising tasks and getting involved in all aspects of the business – sometimes things you don’t have experience in
  • Being an unknown/ new player with limited purchasing power gives you less bargaining power
  • Getting brands to come on board a new portal without a track record proved to be a bit of a challenge, in some cases
  • Thorough and time consuming research was done to put up the information on the site – in order to benefit pet parents – this piece was very time consuming

What were the clearances that you required for your venture from various authorities?

There were no clearances required besides the usual ones of setting up a company, such as acquiring a GST certificate, intellectual property rights registration, obtaining a PAN Card, etc.  

Funds/ finance is the prime issue of almost all start-ups. What can the industry and the Government do to address this issue and ease the capital requirements of start-ups?

  • Do away with GST registration and filing for all e-commerce companies and make it mandatory only once revenue crosses a certain threshold.
  • Give subsidised loans to start-ups to help them meet their working capital/ capex requirements

Prime Minister Modi has announced a Startup India Seed Fund. How do you see start-ups benefiting from it?

Start-ups have been targeted in certain sectors that have not received much funding. This provides an opportunity for start-ups with potential to receive funding and help them along their growth journey.  

How is digital helping you further your business?

Digital has been a blessing in these COVID-19 times. With restricted movement, people are spending more time on social media. Social media also allows us to target a wider audience and provides a platform, which allows safe engagement with our audience.  

What were your key learnings from 2020? How do you see the start-up ecosystem progressing in 2021?

Key learnings from 2020: Despite the pandemic, many start-ups have flourished. In uncertain times like these, where people have taken pay cuts or even lost their jobs – the whole world is undergoing a recession. However, the market for pet products, very much like the market for children’s products, is recession-proof. Human beings being an adaptable species will adapt to the new normal during and after the pandemic, which will lead to many opportunities for start-ups. 

 

What would be your message for the budding entrepreneurs?

Every entrepreneur must have passion and patience. For any business to flourish, it will take time. Patiently wait while it grows organically, and keep working frugally while assessing the market. 

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