Rana Atheya was 27 years old when he started his own venture and that too without major investment. DogSpot.in, a leading online shop for pet products defines how your love for something can be raised into real business. He says “There are many animal lovers among us, but you don’t have a single platform where they can actually get details on animal care”. Being a great pet lover started a community of dog lovers initially, which later became ecommerce portal known as Dogspot today. The store has served 30,000 pets till date and records 60% yearly growth along with a community of 7,000 registered pets. Yo Success interviewed the founder and inquired more on what makes passion survive in the tough world of online entrepreneurs. Read ahead..
What inspired you to start your Business?
I have always loved animals and my father played an instrumental role in shaping my interest towards pet keeping. When I started working in Gurgaon with an internet company, I discovered that there was little information available online, especially for the Indian pet owner. Every dog lover wants to know and be more educated about their pets but we do not have enough websites offering them the information they needed. This simple realization prompted me to start the DogSpot.in as a community website in 2007 which eventually became an eCommerce portal in 2011
What is your life mantra?
If you are not working hard there is something wrong with what you are doing.
What was the most challenging part of your journey till now?
The eCommerce industry is still evolving and growing as more and more people go online to buy products. Having said so, we face the following few challenges when it comes to our business:
- Unorganized market – It is a challenge working with unorganized players. Some players have major setbacks and they are not open to learning or evolving. In such cases we try and build those capabilities within our systems
- Overall cost of transportation – Pet Products are generally bulky and it becomes important for us to keep a close eye on the shipping costs and economics
- Finding the right talent – People who believe in our line of work and are passionate about pets and petcare
According to you, what are the three qualities an individual must have to achieve success?
Passion, Perseverance and Patience
How do you protect yourself from the problem of Brain Drain?
Attrition is normal to an extent. We have not seen abnormal brain drain till now and I believe it is because of the following :
- Most people change their jobs because of a bad boss. In a Startup, the set up is flat and there is an open environment, which make people very comfortable
- We take care of our colleagues
- We are emerging corporate but we keep in mind that we are not yet corporate. Doing this helps us to make more liberal policies with employees in mind
- Career development and HRD is taken with lot of seriousness. We do one-to-one sessions with team members to understand their interests and development areas and get them into online courses or send them to attend events/workshops
- There is a very liberal scheme for taking advance salaries
- We have a small fund to support hobbies
What are your top three getaway destinations ?
- Corbett National Park (India)
- Rishikesh for Rafting (India)
- Manali (India)
As an entrepreneur, what advice would you like to share with emerging startups?
In any business, it is important to understand the market and study the opportunities that exist. One needs to be passionate and practical at the same time to ensure that the business venture works. Before you jump into the fire (which you should do by all means) you need to be certain about the value you bring to the table and never lose focus. For instance, DogSpot.in was started at a blog in 2007 and till date we have focussed on providing valuable pet care related content to our customers. Our differentiator is that we understand the pet care market and the needs that a pet has and try and create and build on product propositions along those needs. Our aim has always been to be an important part of every pet owner’s life throughout the lifecycle of the pet; whether it is as a community or through the content generated by the in-house team. So we have a strong concentration on generation and sharing of content related to pets and pet care. Our business model is fairly simple but our differentiator makes us a leading eCommerce portal for pet products in India.
If you get a chance to start your career again what would you do differently this time?
A lot of things have come together for me in the last few years. My experience with technology firms has enabled me to understand the market better in terms of petcare and how technology can play a role in enable people take better care of their pets. Given a chance to start again, I think I would like to perhaps start my venture earlier than I did.
Which online tools and services do you use the most and would like to recommend as well?
- We use Google Analytics to measure the site usage and understand our users better
- We have been using screaming frog to run some tests on SEO
Share any one habit which you think makes you more productive.
You need to enjoy what you are working on. Learning to develop interest in something is what helps to work better
Share any one habit which you wish to change in yourself.
Trying to do too many things at the same time and taking too much responsibility. a.Team Empowerment and delegation of work helps to be more productive when we are scaling up. I am still learning the same.
Which one mobile app would you recommend?
Answer in less than 50 words
a) One tip to success
Be passionate about what you do in a practical manner. One needs to be passionate about their business but you also need to focus on presenting a viable picture, especially if you are looking at investments in your business. Does your research before you start and keep your focus on your core values.
b) One tip to be a good learner
It is extremely important for any individual or group to listen and observe. You need to listen to your consumers, partners and your investors. One needs to observe the market and be constantly clued into the need of the hour. Also, keep evaluating yourself and your business.
c) One mistake you believe every individual must avoid
The biggest mistake people do is to stop evolving. Like product development and advancements, businesses need to develop too.
What are your plans for next 3 years?
Petcare industry in India is estimated to grow at a tremendous pace. However, it is still an 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 launch our own 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.
Share a quote that inspires you the most.
Envision, create and believe in your own universe and the universe will form around you