In 2017, Devanshi Shah’s pet dog Hazel was facing critical health issues. These trying times led her to realise the many gaps in the animal-care sector in India.
After being unwell for over a month, Hazel was finally admitted for surgery. Looking at her deteriorating condition, the five-year-old Havanese pup was scheduled for an emergency procedure. Sadly, Hazel began bleeding internally during the prep.
This led to a hunt for the necessary blood. “The doctors and I had to wait out the night to find an appropriate donor,” recalls Devanshi. In the end, Hazel didn’t make it through the night.
These failures and lack of services led Devanshi to start PetKonnect in 2019. A comprehensive online community for pets as well as stray animals, PetKonnect offers a wide array of facilities to users through its website and apps.
“To build India’s most reliable and trustworthy community of animal care-givers with measurable positive outcomes for all our paw-fect friends, we give users access to the several sections on our digital platforms,” says Devanshi.
The platform has:
Social Petwork: A social media platform for pets that enables users to identify pets around them through their geotagged locations. By creating a pet profile, users can search, add, and make pet friends. The service enables them to share photos, make plans and arrange playdates with other pets.
My Pets: An in-app pet management system that allows pet owners to create a pet profile for complete healthcare. Not only can users store their pets’ medical records and online prescriptions, but they also receive recommendations and reminders on necessary vaccinations. This section also allows pet owners to register their pets with government authorities.
Emergency: This allows access to a variety of emergency services. Users can reach out to partner NGOs/ambulance taxis that provide on-the-spot treatment to strays, perform rescue operations, etc. The startup also allows users to request for blood during emergencies through its user lead bloodline service.
Service Providers: The startup aims to bring service providers and seekers onto one platform, like trainers, walkers, lodgers and boarders, vets and groomers, to name a few.
Pet Affairs: This section serves as a knowledge centre. Users are given relevant content including informative articles, training tips, health tips, food tips, relevant laws, events, and much more. In the near future, users will also be able to share their personal stories and learnings in this section.
The revenue model
Based in Mumbai, PetKonnect's revenue model is similar to that of UrbanClap. However, the startup is in its pre-revenue stages at the moment. It plans to introduce a charge of two to five percent on service providers by February 2020.
Ideally, PetKonnect hopes to not charge service providers any fee and make its revenue from other sources. Once they develop a larger user base, the startup plan to inculcate more innovative revenue models to ensure the venture fuels its growth across India.
It is looking at fees for assisting registration of dogs with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC): a fee of Rs 50 per registration plus government taxes.
The startup also plans to provide vet-on-call-services to generate revenue. It will provide users access to vets through its platform. While the first 10 calls will be free, users will be billed Rs 600 for the next 10 calls on a top-up basis, and so on.
The team is also looking at advertising as a source of revenue. The startup aims to have over 100,000 users by 2023, of which 80 percent would be active. PetKonnect plans to run ads for ethical brands, events and more. It is also looking to charge service providers and partners for sponsored posts and listings.
A rich market
PetKonnect benefits from strategic intra-industry partnerships such as Togo Kennels run by funds from Uniphosphorous, Aawaz – Voice of Stray Animals, Vardhaman Sanskar Dham.
There are several startups in the pet care segment. Delhi-based retailer of pet products Heads Up for Tails recently raised $10 million in funding. The round was led by a group of family offices, HNI's, and existing promoters.
Other prominent startups in the space include DogSpot, TailsLife, DoggieTheApp, Fur Ball Story, and For Love of All Pets.
Globally, wag.com (acquired by Amazon), ZoopPlus (Europe), and PetsatHome have been successful vertical players in the pet care category.
A report by Euromonitor suggests that the product market of pets in India is going to grow at 10 to 15 percent in a few years. Also, IBEF data suggests that on average, close to 600,000 pets are adopted every year globally.
But Devanshi is confident about the startup’s prospects. She says, “We are working towards building a team of doctors, which will help patients on-call. Registration of pets with BMC is largely unknown amongst pet parents.”
Speaking of their future plans, Devanshi says, “I would like to make PetKonnect India’s premier, one-stop solution, and hassle-free service provider for all kinds of pets and animals. Over the next year, I’m looking to expand to other cities, starting with New Delhi and Hyderabad.”