Creature Companion Magazine had interacted with Sinal Shah, Co-Founder Petsy. Petsy is an e-commerce website with a difference. She talks about their journey in India and learning in last three years with infectious energy.
Could you tell us about yourself and the inspiration behind Petsy?
I migrated to Australia from Kenya at the age of 16. I was qualified as a CA in Australia and specialized in Australian GST at PWC. In one of our annual trips to Mumbai, we came across a dog infested with ticks and fleas outside our apartment. In an attempt to help the dog, we looked everywhere, local pet shops and online, for something as simple as a ‘spot on’, but unfortunately, we couldn’t find it anywhere. And this got us thinking as to how pet parents obtained products for their pets and how their pet parenting experience was. Petsy was born with an intention to offer quality products to the ever-growing pet population; educate pet parents and support individuals and NGOs working for the welfare of animals.
When did you start Petsy and tell us about your initial challenges?
Petsy launched in September 2019 and within a few months Covid hit India. Fortunately, we were able to deliver products within Mumbai but we did face challenges, like being short staffed and facing shortage of ancillary supplies such as packaging materials. We had small team so everyone including myself and my co-founder were working across different areas from marketing to packaging to shipping. Nonetheless, this phase brought about a lot of learning for us. It taught us to be agile, dynamic and to adapt to the changing needs to the environment around us; adding new products, working through various logistical issues and more.
How are you making a difference in pet parent’s life?
We saw three systemic problems in the pet industry in India – first, the lack of publicly-available product information which resulted in pet parents not being able to make informed choices. Second, a platform that aggregated different stakeholders such as a brands, NGOs, and service providers to offer a holistic approach to pet parenting and third, a lack of a trusted and socially conscious platform.
Petsy solves these issues by educating and empowering pet parents through informative yet engaging content through social media, website, emails and more. We provide easy and convenient access to high quality products, with extra emphasis on providing informative product details so that pet parents find it convenient to find suitable products for their furry babies. We work with NGOs, feeders, and rescuers to support them in their selfless work. We sum-up all these as the Petsy experience.
Your thoughts on D2C ecosystem in India, especially, in pet industry.
I won’t say our journey in India has been absolutely smooth. Coming from Australia to India, we had our share of ups and downs when starting Petsy. There is a vast difference between the Indian and Australian pet market and the opportunities each market carries.
We are fortunate to have tremendous support from all stake holders from the Indian pet industry. They are willing to work with each other in a constructive manner and support the overall growth of the industry – we are happy to be in this space.
Challenges and opportunities in D2C Business.
The e-commerce space is becoming increasingly crowded as everyone is trying to go digital. The pet industry is relatively young yet growing rapidly and in order to succeed in this space, visibility and awareness is crucial to help grab your target audience’s attention and acquire new customers. Innovating and continually adapting communications and marketing is important to reach your target audience. Similarly, logistics and shipping are major costs for any e-commerce business and for smaller business especially, it can become sticking point. Businesses who overcome these challenges are going to lead the way.
How do you balance between discounting vs. products value for money?
With new players entering the market every other day, unfortunately discounting has been used as a technique to acquire new customers which according to me is not sustainable in the long term. In addition to this, it erodes the industry value. We emphasize on Petsy experience that I talked about before by providing a holistic experience and a support through the journey of a pet parent with the help of education and community connect as a means of growing Petsy and becoming a household name.
How does your products basket look like between private label and third-party products?
The majority of products are sourced from other companies. This year we launched treats for dogs and cats. Our treats are naturally irresistible in that they are made with functional ingredients such as turmeric, moringa, and peanut butter.
How was the year 2021 and 2022 so far?
The year 2021 was phenomenal. We grew over hundred per cent. There were challenges but it was rewarding at the same time.
In 2022, it has been good so far. Our constant thoughts have been to work on improving pet parent’s experience and to provide best product fit for them as per their pet’s need. However, it is work on progress. Stay tuned.
Funding scenario in India in the pet industry?
Funding plays an important role to scale up a business. We may go down this path at some point and when it happens, we’ll be sure to let you know. Till then, stay tuned!
What was your learning in last three years of running Petsy in India?
My philosophy has always been to keep an open mind, be resilient, and have conviction in your dream. Although I am an Indian, I have lived away from India all my life and naturally this results in different cultures. Learning about the culture and the way business in India is done, was interesting, challenging but equally exciting.
I believe keeping an open mind lets you absorb as much as you want from people and the surroundings and some important points. It is up to us what we want to process and what we do not want to.