Rachel Arora, Editor, CC in conversation with Mohit Lalvani, the Founder of Captain Zack, a premium range of grooming products for dogs.

1. When was Captain Zack founded and what was your vision behind forming it?

Captain Zack is a brand under the parent company Em & Em that manufactures personal care products for humans. It was launched one and a half years ago and is a love story of true friendship between me and my Labrador, Zack, who is indeed a charismatic leader. Zack is a real Alpha, who likes to lead and I’ve observed that other animals actually take his lead and follow him.
Being a part of the cosmetics industry for a long time, I wanted to create a line of grooming products for dogs that would be void of any harmful chemicals and completely safe for their use. Most companies manufacturing pet grooming products in our country are only here to mint money. They don’t care about the effect these products might have on the dog’s skin. Most of these companies manufacture cheap, low quality products which are not up to the mark and can cause a number of allergic reactions in dogs. Come to think about it, a dog’s skin is more alkaline than a human’s and most of the shampoos and other products in the market are too acidic to be used on dogs. They can cause allergic reactions, hair fall, fungal infections and discomfort to the dog.
So, after conducting a great deal of research and experimentation, we devised an exclusive range of paraben free , vegan pet friendly products for dogs that are safe to use and keeps their skin in good health. Our aim is to offer premium quality grooming products for pets that will go a long way in promoting their health.

2. Are you a dog/animal lover? What are the names of your pets?

Oh yes. I live in a family comprising of one dog and six cats- Zack (Labrador) 10 years old, Zoey- Persian Cat, 6 years old with her two boys- Boris and Gunther, 4 years old, Sylvester,2 years old, a stray with paralysis (his leg was crushed by a truck)- Ginger , also a stray who is the best of the lot ;she is also the naughtiest but my favourite and Smokey, a smoke coloured cat who was rescued from a family as he was being traumatized.
We also have a foundation for animals called Welove Animals Foundation working for the wellbeing of all kinds of animals. The foundation is involved in rescue operations, adoption, medication and feeding animals.

3. The Indian Pet Industry is growing at an unprecedented rate. Where do you foresee the future of your company in the next five years?

Yes, the Indian Pet Industry has witnessed a boom in recent years and is growing at a rapid pace. We envision ourselves as the pioneers in manufacturing a premium range of pet grooming products in the country. We take pride in the fact that we don’t compromise on the quality of our products and offer non-toxic, fragrance free and paraben free products to our furry companions.
Over the years we have established a certain level of trust and goodwill amongst our clients and associates which drives people to come to us asking various questions about pets and we give them proper answers and solutions for any pet-related problems.

4. What according to you is the scope of the Indian Pet Services Industry in the long run?

The Industry will most certainly grow as more and more people are adopting pets. Also, the present day consumers are more aware about the products in the market and they want the best for their pets.

5. What changes have occurred in recent years resulting in a sudden boom in the pet industry?

In recent years, the number of pet adoptions taking place in the country has significantly increased. Factors such as humanization of pets, urbanization and emergence of a larger number of nuclear families are responsible for this. Moreover, there has been a considerable amount of increase in the number of separations as well as working couples who don’t want to have children and are looking to adopt pets. Also, empty nest syndrome and growing levels of loneliness among the urban population has led to more pet adoptions in recent times.
In addition to this, I have observed that the millennials- (population between 20-30 year olds) are becoming increasingly animal friendly. For instance, if there is a flood or an animal needs shelter, they are the first ones to come to their aid. They are the ones looking out for animals more than what the other half of the country is doing.

6. Are you planning to enter the International market in the near future?

Yes, we are looking to enter the International market. In fact, we are planning to launch our products in Hong Kong, Singapore and London.

7. With current technological innovations and new trends being introduced almost on a daily basis, how can Indian start-ups related to the pet industry benefit?

E-commerce and social media such as Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat etc. have played an important role in reaching out to pet lovers and pet parents. Most millenials connect and interact with each other on various online platforms. When one looks at memes and videos of pets on social media they have a therapeutic effect on an individual’s mind. At the same time social media can also be dangerous for pets. For instance, one wrong statement or suggestion can actually put your pet in harm’s way.

8. Do you see India emerging as a global leader in pet products?

Not in the current scenario. However, it will take India a couple of decades to make an impact on a global scale. The pace is slow and steady but the government and citizens need to come together to develop compassion for animals.

9. The Indian market is still untouched when it comes to pet services and products. What can be done to make it more accessible and attract foreign investment?

The government should regulate the laws governing the pet industry and citizens need to be more compassionate towards animals on the whole. As a nation we need to develop a civic sense and be more empathetic towards them. We must realize that animals mustn’t be objectified as they are not a means for our amusement but are our companions. I’ve seen so many cases wherein pet owners disown or abandon their pets if something goes wrong. They’re just not ready to take responsibility for the pet.

10. Many experts point out that the Indian pet services industry is still in a disorganized state. What can the government do to improve this situation?

It is indeed very sad that there are no FDA approved guidelines to manufacture pet grooming products in our country. Almost anybody with or without any knowledge about animals can start a company overnight and go on to manufacture low quality products for pets that can harm them. We need to have some rules and regulations in place governing production so that our animals have access to safe products and live healthier and happier lives.