Creature Companion Magazine had interacted with Mr. Manaal, Founder and CEO of TailBlaze. He talks about his inspiration behind starting TailBlaze, the details that went into it, his connection with Pets and Pet owners, and his career trajectory ever since.
Tell us about your background. How did you come up with the idea of starting this company?
Thank you for having me here. I come from a humble family in Ahmedabad. My father is a school teacher. I started my entrepreneurial journey at the age of 11 by selling mobile phones to nearby retailers by ordering them on eBay, which ignited my passion to become an impactful entrepreneur in the future. I obtained my management degree from MICA, Ahmedabad, and I was a gold medallist there. I joined a 200-year-old FMCG giant from the UK as a management trainee and was the number one-performing area sales manager for two consecutive years there. Later, I joined a start-up called ‘UDAAN’ as a founding team member. I built the pharma business unit there from scratch, and then I got a national opportunity with ‘DealShare’. At Dealshare, I played a significant role in the company’s valuation from USD 50 million to USD 2 billion in just 20 months. Parallel to that, I became a mother to Einstein (a Labrador), who is the inspiration, co-founder and Chief Testing Officer at TailBlaze, a pet brand based out of India. In 2020, Einstein became very obese after breaking his leg in an accident, and my research led me to discover a gap in the unregulated and organized pet industry. So, I left my job as an Associate Director of Product & Marketing to launch TailBlaze, which started by offering organic and natural pet food.
Please describe your products, the business activities around you, and the SKUs you have as a Tail Blaze company.
TailBlaze offers over 200 items, including premium organic chicken and duck dog food, free from artificial preservatives. The company also introduced three all-natural treats: fish and strawberry, Grandma’s signature chicken with cocool chicken, coconut and hemp treats. TailBlaze produces and packages all the products in India and sells them offline and online through their own website & marketplaces. They have garnered five national honours, one international award, and many Instagram followers. TailBlaze has now expanded beyond just pet food to include grooming products and essentials. The company aims to cater to high-net-worth individuals, premium, and niche demographics. Recently, TailBlaze held the largest pre-launch event for two of their upcoming brands – TailBlaze Groom Vroom and TailBlaze Pawssentials in Bengaluru with almost 100 pets and 300 people attending the event. The mission has evolved to provide the best for pets worldwide, with the goal of having “a billion tails blazing throughout the globe.”
Tail Blaze always makes its customers feel important and appreciated. How do you fulfil their expectations and demands?
People want to try TailBlaze because of the positive word of mouth, five national awards, one international award, and a large Instagram following in just 5 to 6 months. We noticed that pet parents faced challenges in providing proper care for their pets, such as exercise and grooming. This led to the expansion of TailBlaze to include additional brands addressing various pet parent needs, including grooming and accessories. TailBlaze recently launched two new brands, Tail Blaze Groom Vroom and Tail Blaze Pawssentials, which offer a range of patented grooming products. TailBlaze has its own manufacturing facilities and offices in Bangalore for food and treats, in Surat for grooming products, and in Kanpur for accessories. The company’s mission has evolved to provide the best in everything for pets, creating a connected ecosystem to help them live their best lives.
You are currently both online and offline. What are the platforms you use, and in which states do you physically have retail locations?
We sell our products online through our website and also on Amazon, SuperTails, and D2C platforms like DownTown, the “Cred” store and “Jiomart”. We also have offline outlets in Delhi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru. However, we want to expand and become an all-encompassing brand. Our goal is to become a comprehensive brand for food, grooming, and other products. We also participate in B2B platforms like IIPTF and attend various events, including two international expos already confirmed for 2023. Our aim is to establish an omni-channel pet brand.
What have you learned since launching the company?
My learning is straightforward, but many pet-related brands overlook it. This industry is dominated by sentimental buyers, changing from pet owners to pet parents. Consumers put a lot of emotion into making every purchase. If you don’t satisfy their needs and notice the change in their pets’ lives, your brand will be eliminated from the market in a few years’ time.
What do you think about the pet market in India and other countries?
Pet parenting is on the rise in India, with 40 million pets expected by the end of this year, up from 18 million 3 to 4 years ago. Despite the fact that India represents only a modest percentage of the total global pet market of around USD 300 billion, it has a 20% CAGR growth rate and is a desirable location. At a recent Tail Blaze event in Bengaluru on 26th March, pets were treated like celebrities, demonstrating the transition from pet ownership to pet parent-ship. The Indian market is expected to expand rapidly in the next 10 years, and the company is also expanding globally. The market for cats is expanding in the Middle East, while the US, Canada, Europe, the UN, Southeast Asia, and London are important markets for dogs.
Considering your rapid group, competitors and investors must be monitoring your growth closely. With your strong education and background, investors view you as a solid founder. Are you currently in talks with any potential investors?
We have already raised 10 million in our angel round in December 2022 from four investors with diverse expertise from the US, the Middle East, and India. We are in talks with other investors who have shown interest. We are looking for investors who bring value beyond just money and share our passion for pets. We have humbly rejected offers from investors who don’t have this synergy. The competitors are also watching, and we welcome them to copy our products for the good of the industry. We will soon appear on national television also.
Any last parting thoughts?
I believe that there is a huge untapped space for niche brands in the pet industry, and players should work closely together to bring out the best products for pets. Brands should respect each other and work towards a common goal, not just focus on cost-cutting or undercutting the competition. With collaboration, this industry can achieve growth from 1.25 to 100 billion dollars in the Indian market over the next 10 years. Brands should produce the best products, cooperate, assist each other, and respect each other and their pets. This is for all pet owners, pet brands, pet businesses, and individuals who work for a common goal.
Thank you, Mr. Manaal. Nice talking to you. We wish you all the best for your future.
Thank you so much. Cheers and Bow Wow from Einstein and Curie as well.