“To us pets are family and family deserves nothing but the best”
Creature Companion Magazine had an opportunity to touch base with Ms. Rashi Narang, Founder of Heads Up For Tails. She dwelled upon the inception of her venture, her strategies, USPs, and social welfare initiatives. Excerpts…
Tell us about the inception of Heads Up For Tails. What challenges did you face while forming it?
Little puppy came into my life back in 2008. I had grown up with dogs in a pet loving family. What was different this time was that I was married and solely responsible for this puppy. In that journey of bringing him up, I realized that there were so many things that we didn’t have but we needed. I was able to see that gap. When I used to visit any pet store, there were very little and basic things, which were available. So this wide gap excited me and then I set up Heads Up For Tails as a tiny home-grown passion-led venture to reach out to other pet parents like me who would want the best quality and variety of products for their pets.
How has your strategy changed over time considering the place that pets hold in society?
For longest time we didn’t really have any strategy. One of our core beliefs was that pets are family and family only deserves the best. As we have grown along this journey, people and pet lovers have become pet parents and pets have become our family members. This transition has been amazing. So we have always designed and created products with lot of empathy and functionality, and I think that has worked well for us.
What do you think makes you set apart from your competitors? Who do you consider as your major competitors?
Competition exists for sure! But I think we stand out because of our thought leadership. Being the first one to introduce Indian Pet Market to the most categories as you see now; none of these were available before. Customers who have been associated with us from that time, they have seen our efforts. We believe in quality of the products and we know that this is what will keep our customers intact.
How and when did you decide to move one step ahead by entering grooming and spa business?
This came from the thought of becoming one-stop shop. Every time I took my dog for grooming, I was horrified at people handling her in extreme unhygienic condition. They did not know how to deal with dogs. My dog used to feel traumatized. I knew that there has to be another way. Our whole approach to grooming was that groomers must be trained to be able to bond with dogs and understand their body language. They should know how to work with them instead to working against them.
Did you idealize anybody while starting this venture? Who was your inspiration?
No I didn’t. For me, my Sara was my inspiration. I did it for her. She has been my best teacher. Unfortunately, I lost her last year, but she continues to inspire me to make that difference. She was so special and had larger than life personality. Thinking of her, we focus on the fact that products that we make must be comfortable for the pets as they can’t speak back to us.
What lessons have you learnt along your entrepreneurial journey?
One of the most important lessons that I have learnt is that you have to fail to succeed. This ability to fail fast and then correspondingly learn has been very valuable for us.
Second thing that I’d like to mention is that when you are striving for world class, the right people make all the difference between being mediocre and very successful. Finding people, who can align with ambitious goals that we have and with the value system that we possess, is very important.
Tell us something about Heads Up For Tails Foundation.
It is a special-to-heart project. All this while, we were involved as much as we could in taking care of streeties but it was not a formal initiative. It was just a part of who we are and what we do. However, we wanted to formalize it in order to give it more focus and attention. Hence, HUFT Foundation was set up.
Main aim of this Foundation is to enable peaceful co-existence between man and animal in urban spaces. We visit schools, teach children the body language of dogs, make them understand that they are amazing beings, and how to befriend them. We want to remind people that it is their home too. Our other initiatives include reflective collar drives, feeding the strays, vaccinating them, sterilization etc. We also partner with other people who have wider reach and who can help us go farther in this initiative.
Recently, Heads Up For Tails has been awarded as ‘Brand of the Year’ in World Branding Awards under animals’ edition. What is your strategy to take your venture forward on the same line?
We have many ideas of how and what we want to do. But I think ‘innovation’ will continue to be at the center of everything. It’s about how we can make our products better, stronger, and lighter, how they help in solving more problems, and how we can map our customers’ journey to make it absolutely incredible.
What are your thoughts on Indian Pet Industry? In your opinion, is the Indian Industry set to be a global player in the coming years?
When I started out, I went to more than 200 stores, none of which wanted to keep our products because the people behind those stores had no idea what pet parents really need. At present, what I like is that the newer generation of Indian pet entrepreneurs is passion-led and wants to make a real difference. However, having said that, I still feel that we have a very long way to go because a lot of them who are coming in the market are thinking very small at the moment. We don’t have enough people thinking bigger, enough people on the tech side; it is very little development there. A lot of people are copying; there is not enough innovation. They are not building for scale. Nevertheless, there are a few who are on the right path and I am hoping that this will evolve further.
At global level, we have a lot of work to do to be able to compete in the global market as the latter is way more ahead than us in this field. However, that doesn’t mean we cannot get there. We have it in us to find our way. It just needs to permeate and come together with more focus and strategy.
Which mobile application do you use the most?
Zoom for sure! Since we are working remotely, I am all day long on my zoom calls.
Any message you wish to convey to pet parents.
Every pet is different, so you have to understand your pet at species level and even at personality level. You have to accept the individuality of your pet and keep that in mind while shopping for him. For example, if your pet likes to be alone, then you can buy him toys that are mentally stimulating. Consider socializing them with other people and animals.