He started this venture with initial investment of Rs. 7 lakh at the age of 27. Now, according to ComScore, his venture is No. 1 portal in India under Pet Category. Meet Rana Atheya, CEO of DogSpot.in
DogSpot is a one stop platform for all the dogs’ needs. DogSpot aspires to solve problems in the dog world, by aggregating and organizing information, bridging gaps and hence bringing the community closer.
In a candid interview with Tarun from the team of Fuchha.in, Rana talks about his successful journey, future plans, advice for to students and more.
1. What was the idea behind Dogspot?
Animals have always been my passion but I discovered that there was little information available online for pet owners and lovers, on pets and better pet keeping. As a dog owner, I wanted to know more about my pet but was unable to find useful information online. This got me thinking that there was a bigger concern that needed to be addressed. Every dog lover wants to know more and be educated about their pets but there are limited websites offering them the information they needed. This simple realization prompted me to start theDogSpot.in as a community website in 2007 which eventually became an eCommerce portal in 2011.
2. Tell us something about your team.
DogSpot.in is a team of 37 strong individuals who understand and are passionate about the petcare industry. As an organization, we knew that the initial team members will be our brand builders and we have focused a lot on creating a culture based on trust, openness, skill and drive to excel in this industry. Our team; be it designers, content developers of customer care officers believe in the company and its vision.
Our focus on the industry and our business is evident from the fact that we only look to hire individuals who are either pet owners or pet lovers.
3. How has been the journey so far? Would you like to share few milestones Dogspot has achieved in last few years?
It has been a fantastic journey. I am a first generation entrepreneur so there were a lot of things that I had to learn or perhaps unlearn. It takes a lot of courage and family support to leave a comfortable job and wear an entrepreneurial hat and till now, I have been fairly successful in my journey.
Every day is a challenge for a startup but we have been able to slowly and steadily create a name for ourselves in the petcare industry. We are the largest eCommerce portal for petcare products in the country and one with maximum content for pet owners. As a CEO, I take extreme pride in the fact that there is no other site in the country with content of our caliber around pets. Infact, we are a Dog-pedia of sorts. Our biggest achievement has to be our first funding from India Quotient in February 2013 which is being used for further development (new sites, apps, etc.) and expanding our own range of products.
In addition, we recently launched our own private label and are introducing new and innovative products to address new categories.
4. What has been the most difficult and exciting phase in your journey?
As shared earlier, I do not have an entrepreneurial background so starting out itself was a big step. I always wanted to work in the petcare industry. My parents are academicians. I was working in a job and started DogSpot.in with an initial investment of Rs. 7 lakh which I brought in from two of my friends, so there was a lot of pressure.
The DogSpot journey is still on and as an entrepreneur every day I learn something new. The most exciting phase has to be our first funding in 2011 because it was then, that I was able to show my dream to someone else. Infact, there was so much passion in what I was building that those who saw my dream believed in it too and there has been no looking back.
It has been a very exciting journey so far. I was able to do it because I was passionate about the dream as well as my family and friends supported me. I have had tremendous learning in every field of business management. This type of learning is never possible in a job.
On a personal count are you happy with the way business has turned out for you?
Absolutely, we are doing well and growing in a consistent manner. If you look around, you will notice that a lot of big players are now entering the petcare market because they have realized the potential this category.
The petcare industry is growing in a sustained manner supported by an increase in petcare products in the country. Market analysis only reiterates our belief that we are on the right track and posed for more success.
Who is your role model or motivator and why?
Tony Hsieh, CEO of the online shoe and clothing shop Zappos.com is someone I look up to. He once said that if you envision, create and believe in your own universe and the universe will form around you, which hold true for me too.
What’s your take on the future of e-commerce businesses in India?
eCommerce in India is only bound to grow. The internet user base in India is around 250 million which is extremely low as compared to developed markets like the United States and the United Kingdom.
With usage of smartphones the internet penetration will further increase ensuring that consumers can access products from anywhere and at any point in time. This is especially beneficial for us because we will be able to further our reach. For instance if you are in a location where you are unable to find a specific type of petcare product, you can log-in from your phone and we will deliver it at your doorstep.
Where do you see your businesses 5 years down the line, any plans for merger or acquisition?
It is too early to comment on where the business will be heading in the next 5 years. However, at present petcare is still and organized market and there is immense opportunity to fill the gaps that exists in this segment.
We are a pioneer in this industry and want to lead the growth by being a one-stop destination for pet lovers to fulfill all their needs. Our immediate focus is to build on our private label and address new categories. In addition, we will also work on establishing our websites like FishSpot, CatSpot and BirdSpot. We expect to grow at least 4 times in next one year. We will be introducing lot of new pet products to help better connect dog owners with their pets.
Any tips/suggestion for students and budding entrepreneur?
In the words of 24 year old CEO, Ben Weissenstein, “Everything started as nothing.”, so start something.
This article was written by Tarun from Fuchha.in.
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“The idea is to quit complaining and get the job done.” – Anu Vaidyanathan, Triathlete, Entrepreneur, Academic Extraordinaire.