DogSpot.in is India’s most visited dog portal and e-store. Today, it is the largest pet community site in the Asia-Pacific region and has registered organic growth year on year.
Creature Companion Magazine got an opportunity to touch base with Mr. Rana Atheya, CEO and founder of DogSpot.in. A product and customer management professional, Mr. Atheya founded DogSpot.in with an aim to ease pet parenting woes and bring knowledge and insight to the larger community. In 2016, the company received funding from Ratan Tata amongst others and has since then grown to further strengths, adding new products to their line-up and furthering their goal of helping people to be better pet parents and caregivers. He shared his strategy and vision with us regarding pet population in the society.
What inspired you to start with DogSpot.in, which is now India’s largest online pet community?
DogSpot.in came into being as an idea to help people raise their pets. I have been an avid dog lover and a reader all my life. While working at my corporate job, I was frequently asked to advise on pet keeping. I identified the knowledge gap and thought it would be a great idea to start putting this information in the public domain and involve other pet owners to share their experiences as well. DogSpot.in was started as an online community that told people the how-tos and gotchas of raising pets in the Indian context.
How did you manage to build this pet-care community? What strategy did you follow to keep your audience engaged?
Our engagement strategy has had to evolve over the years because the community has evolved. It is mostly data and analytics driven, but also greatly instinctual. We started by providing information and enabling pet owners to share their experiences. We also started clicking pictures, creating awareness about pet events. This gave us a lot of visibility and users on the website. We launched e-commerce for pet supplies and today, we are more focussed on creating videos and using social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. There is more live and instant interaction on these platforms which is what the audience wants too.
What is the driving force that keeps you going, while spreading awareness about healthy petkeeping?
I love animals in general. It is a very niche space we operate in, so there is that. It is constantly evolving and changing, and is therefore very challenging. The biggest driving force though is when someone gets in touch with us regarding how we helped them. It might sound altruistic, but I love the idea that we can help people raise better pets, and break the taboos and myths around keeping a pet in Indian homes. There are so many people actively devoted to the cause; it feels great to just be able to create that synergy.
How did you develop such immense affinity for pets?
My father is a Professor of Veterinary Sciences, and I was raised in a university town. I guess it was growing up with nature and a lot of animals around the house that made me so fond of them. Also, when you observe animals, you realize that they are very singular in their needs and extremely unconditional. It is a unique quality that is very endearing.
What initiatives are you taking to get pet parents through this lockdown amidst Covid-19 crisis?
One of the first queries that we received was regarding pet supplies and the lack of availability of basics like pet food etc. during this time. The first goal therefore was to make sure that we are able to get operational in that space. We wanted to ensure that pet parents have access to food and other essential resources for their pets. DogSpot.in store has been one of the few that are active and delivering online during this crisis. The second initiative that we have taken on is spreading awareness and engaging the community. We have done multiple IG and YouTube videos even before the lock down started to create awareness on how pets do not cause corona. During the lockdown, we have teamed up with some of the top trainers, veterinarians, and other pet enthusiasts to bring more knowledge and interaction to the community and help pet parents engage their pets.
What is your vision for animals/pets in society?
I once read a quote “Animals are a window to your soul and a doorway to your spiritual destiny. If you let them into your life and allow them to teach you, you will be better for it.” In terms of society, I hope we can learn to co-exist better. As humanity, we need more compassion not just towards man-kind but all kinds. I truly wish, someday we can strike a balance and raise our bars to respect life of every being. The virus has taught us how fragile our ecosystem is. We need more harmony, more acceptance, and brave strides in that direction.
As an industry, the pet industry is resilient to recession. People are getting a chance to spend more time with their pets. This is going to increase the companionship and indulgence of pet owners with their pets.