From mating to finding a spa for your dog, this startup has you covered for all your pet needs

Woof is like Tinder for dogs, it lets you swipe through dogs in your city to find your pet the right mating partner.
From mating to finding a spa for your dog, this startup has you covered for all your pet needs
From mating to finding a spa for your dog, this startup has you covered for all your pet needs

Pet ownership in India has risen exponentially over the past few years. The pet care market in India has grown at 26% during 2011-15. It is currently pegged at $1.22 billion and is expected to grow at 17% during 2016-21.

Out of this, man’s best friend is touted to be the fastest growing. Every third house today owns a dog and the market for dog-related products and services is pegged at approximately $3.5 million.

And these pets are always an integral part of our lives and caring for them, grooming them is always a priority.

Gagan Goyal, Partner at India Quotient also says that the pet needs and services space is at an interesting point given how the culture towards pets is changing.

“They have gone from being kept to protect the house to becoming a part of the family. The market is slowly maturing and there is scope for a lot of players to offer different solutions,” he says.

It is no surprise then that over the past few years, there have been a number of startups catering to various needs of our pets.

There are startups like Timeforpet, which lets you shop for all kinds of pet needs and even offers doctor’s advice and lists reputed veterinary clinics across Bengaluru. There is Barknbond, a canine consultation service and even Barkloot, which sends your dog, a box full of goodies.

Some of these startups are even receiving VC (venture capitalists’) attention. Pet care platform Dogspot has raised funds from renowned VC firms and investors such as Ratan Tata, Ronnie Screwala, K Ganesh and India Quotient.

But for Dehradun-based Gaganjyot Juneja, a dog lover himself, getting his dog mated was always a problem. There was no startup or service that could help you find your dog the best mating partner.

So along with his friend Mandeep Singh, he decided to start a company, which would act as a one stop solution for all kinds of needs for dogs, right from mating, finding a spa, a kennel to a networking platform for dog-lovers.

Gaganjyot and Mandeep founded Woof - my best buddy initially on social media to test the idea and spread the word. They then officially launched their app in May 2017.

“There are many startups catering to dogs. There’s one where you can buy pets online, one that helps you with issues regarding your pets, but nothing where all solutions were under one roof. That is what we are. We’re the only startup in India right now who's offering services like talking to other dog owners, booking appointments for your pets and more,” says Gaganjyot.

Woof has a range of services under its app. Its unique offering is ‘Love nest’, which is like Tinder for dogs. You can swipe through various dog profiles in your locality. You either ‘like’ or ‘love’ a dog and once you ‘love’ a dog, the match is sent to the owner of that dog and then the owners can take it forward from there.

Apart from that, there is Dog Doc, where all trusted vets are listed. The app not only provides a listing of all veterinarians but also helps in booking appointments on your behalf according to your convenience.

If you are planning a holiday and don’t know where to leave your dog, Woof finds you kennels, which are personally verified, to ensure your dog is safe while you’re away on vacation.

To groom your dog and pamper them, Woof also lists dog stores and spas in your locality, again verified by Woof, and books appointments for you.

It also has an e-commerce portal that sells all dog-related products from various brands like Pedigree, Drools, I love Pet Head and more. There is dog food, snacks, clothes, toys, grooming and pet care-related products listed on the website.

While the app is available pan-India, it currently has spas, vets and kennels from Delhi NCR, Dehradun and Chandigarh listed on the app. It is currently in the process of rolling out the same in Mumbai, Pune and Bengaluru.

It has about 15 spas, 22 vets, 12 kennels and 28 stores listed so far across the three cities.

Currently, revenue is generated only through the margins it earns on the products sold through its e-commerce website.

Gaganjyot says that the team is not working on revenue generation right now. For the first few months, the focus is to get people on board and on spreading the word. Revenue generation will begin in full force after about two months. For now, the e-commerce website is the only revenue stream for it.

He wants to first garner at least 25,000 app downloads across the country and then plans to start charging vets, spas, kennels to get listed on its platform. He says that dog owners will never be charged a fee by Woof for the services. It will be similar to the model JustDial works on.

The app has so far seen 3,000 downloads on Android and iOS.

But how sustainable is this business model?

Several e-commerce businesses ran on similar business models and couldn’t sustain in the long term.

However, Gagan Goyal says that revenue generated from listing will be too little as against the cost involved in customer acquisition. “Several startups in the past have tried similar things with people and the business has not been viable. And with pets, it gets more difficult,” he adds.

In a larger sense too, for startups in this space, Gagan says that the question is how you build a sustainable business model, acquire customers and offer services at the right price point. That is one question that has not yet been answered.

“Are these startups venture fundable? Can someone make a large company and grow it in the next 6-7 years? These points still remain questionable,” he says.

Gaganjyot of Woof says that it’s still a new idea and that it will take time for people to get used to what you do.

Apart from its current services, he is looking at a few differentiated offerings to make his company more unique.

Woof is in talks with a few banks to launch pet insurance, which it hopes to offer by December this year.

Additionally, Woof wants to launch its own range of products under the brand Woof. Gaganjyot says that this is something that will get his brand and startup more credibility.

This is something Gagan of India Quotient says too. “The company will need to do more than just generate revenue from listing. They can maybe create a brand of their own, which will bring in more revenues. There are only a few brands right now in this space and so there is opportunity,” he says.

According to him, these startups need to think deeper about generating sustainable revenues.

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