Can’t eat it? Don’t feed it.
Making world healthier for all – humans and pets, that is the philosophy of Bhupendra Khanal, Founder and CEO of Dogsee Chew. With his expertise in product innovation and business strategy, along with an undying love for dogs, he is responsible for driving the mission and vision of the brand, focused on the health and wellness of dogs. Creature Companion Magazine got an opportunity to touch base with him, where he discussed about his company’s inception and the changing dynamics of pet care industry in India. Here are the excerpts…
Before Khanal Foods, you ran an IT company. What made you start Khanal Foods, especially Dogsee Chew?
My wife, Sneh Sharma, and I are the loving pet parents of a Golden Retriever named Mowgli. We, as individuals, are generally very conscious about healthy living and healthy eating.
But as pet parents, we used to struggle with finding healthy treat options for Mowgli. Most of the treats available in market were made of rawhide, a byproduct of leather industry. The rawhide is usually treated with strong chemicals & preservatives and ends up being very harmful to dogs.
Our quest to solve this challenge took us to the remote corners of upper Himalayas, where we encountered Chhurpi, a very hard yak cheese that is typically consumed by humans as a rich source of protein. During our trip, we saw that dogs would steal these treats and gnaw on them. We realized that this cheese, with its bone-like hardness, could become a very healthy alternative to rawhide treats. That’s when we decided to introduce this healthy treat to pet parents across the globe.
Could you share details about the growth of Dogsee Chew since its inception? How was the year 2021?
We started Dogsee with an initial investment of about Rs. 50 lakhs and have closed FY21-22 with a revenue run rate of about Rs. 100 crore. We aspire to become a 500 crore brand in next 3 years. We are also growing quarter-on-quarter and have seen a growth of 200% in the last two years.
In terms of volume, how would you bifurcate sales from the domestic and the international markets?
At present, we are available in 5000+ retail stores across 30 countries. We have 30+ SKUs and a sales volume of over 100 tonnes per month. Currently, we do about 10% business domestically and 90% business overseas, mostly focused in the EU, UK, Japan, USA, and China.
Dogsee Chew is known for cheese treats. What are your other products and your future plans?
Apart from our flagship product Dogsee Chew Hard Bars, our product line also includes Dogsee Chew’s Puffed Treats made from himalayan cheese and Dogsee Crunch – single-ingredient training treats made from real fruits or vegetables.
We are working to add more products with similar USPs. Our goal is to provide natural food and treats to all animals, and we will be expanding to include cats and other small animals segment this year.
You raised three successful fundings; of course, the last two being the biggest! What has changed since then and how are you planning to spend funds?
For any startup, funding acts like a fuel to run faster and farther!
We opened 3 new processing units in over 50,000 square feet; added 50+ new team members; launched 10+ new SKUs; and did large technology implementations and more within 6 months of raising investment.
We are also expanding our investments in factories for the production and processing of Himalayan Chews and other products, and are planning to add over 400 people in our factories this year.
You have been in the Indian Pet Industry for a while now. Please share your valuable learning in all these years?
All these years, the top challenge was to convince people that vegetarian food is good for dogs as long as nutrition is fulfilled. Most of the pet parents and even vets felt otherwise! We convinced them scientifically by working on nutrition and the fact that any mammal survives on milk for the first few months after they are born. Milk products are indeed good for all mammals including dogs. A few animals are lactose intolerant but Dogsee treats are lactose free. Also, the fact that only meat-based food products are supposed to be good for pets is a myth.
The pet food industry presents a huge potential in India, with pet parents increasingly looking for healthy and organic dietary options. Today, pet parents are ready to spend more for quality products that form the core at Dogsee.
Apart from that, we also need to be conscious about the environment and we are continuously working towards it. We recently achieved carbon negative status. We believe that increased awareness about healthy options will only help grow the category.
Pre Covid, funding in the Indian Pet Industry was rare; investors found the market small. What did change so drastically post Covid that everyone seems to be interested in the market?
Investors are always looking to create value for their stakeholders, and now they feel that the time has arrived for the Indian pet industry. This industry was growing at a regular pace pre Covid but pandemic catalysed the growth of this industry.
Typically, countries see a huge growth in the pet industry when the economy crosses a certain threshold in terms of GDP per capita and rise in disposable income; India is now at that junction. We are likely to see about 100% growth in this industry for the next 15 years, till the time market matures. Upon maturity, India is likely to beat Brazil and become the third largest pet supplies market in the world after the USA and China, and the number could be upwards of USD 20B.
Now we are at around USD 500M, and there are a lot of investment requirements for us to move upwards, minimum 40 times in 15 years.
How is Dogsee different from its contemporaries?
Dogsee is not just a brand but a promise to pet parents that they can be completely guilt-free when they feed. They can be proud that as pet parents, they are feeding the best when they choose Dogsee.
We believe in pet parenting and not pet ownership. We believe in natural and cruelty-free living in a sustainable environment. Dogsee is an emotion that runs in all pet parents and animal lovers. Dogsee is Pure, Just like your love!
Share your advice for new folks entering this industry.
The Pet Industry is all about love and affection for animals. They don’t have buying potential but this industry is for them and understanding them can give you all the edge. New folks should not jump to this industry by just seeing the market potential or interested investors. The love for animals should be the driving force. To adopt a pet and be a pet parent before entering this industry is the best advice I have!