Anirban Chanda comes from a family of veterinary doctors. Therefore, when his pets fell ill or needed any kind of health consultation, seeking veterinary intervention at any time of the day or night was never a problem for him.
“Not all pet parents are so lucky when it comes to easy access to vets, especially in Tier 2 and 3 cities,” he said during a conversation with Your story.
Seeing this gap as an opportunity, Anirban launched Onpets, a digital platform for pet owners through which they could book online or on-site consultations with veterinarians. The platform also provides access to pet medicines.
Executed by Onpets Animal Care LLP., the platform was launched in September 2021 by Anirban, who previously worked at Airtel, and his friend Sandipan Guha, a computer engineering graduate.
“Before starting in September, we spent at least five to six months researching, understanding and testing beta versions with a few users in the market,” says Anirban. The founders also spoke with at least 300 pet owners before rolling out their portal.
Kolkata-based Onpets currently caters to pet owners in the city and neighboring towns like Siliguri, Burdwan and Guwahati in Assam, and Bhubaneswar in Odisha.
To facilitate home visits from veterinarians, Onpets has a team of veterinarians in each city where they provide services. While Kolkata has the highest number of vets, 15, other cities where the hub is operational have at least 3-4 vets on board. A total of 22 veterinarians work with Onpets full time as well as four paraveterinarians or groomers.
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The vets and groomers, who work with Onpets, are hired as full-time employees, Anirban claims, and do not practice with any other institution at this time.
According to Anirban, all veterinarians on board the platform are selected through a diligent process, with each veterinarian having at least four years of work experience among other degrees. “For our model to succeed, it is important to have the best professionals at the service of our users,” says Anirban.
Last mile delivery and fiery competition
Onpets also has its own last mile delivery service to fulfill medication orders, as the company wants to reduce the time it takes to deliver pet medication. “Each city has a drug dispenser. So we partner with them and have our own staff who deliver the drugs,” says Anirban.
Many cities in India as well as around the world have seen pet adoption skyrocket during the pandemic. Social isolation due to lockdowns has led many people to adopt a furry companion. In India, the number of pet dogs alone is expected to reach 31.41 million by 2023, up from 21.24 million in 2019, according to Statista.
So it’s no wonder how many pet startups have been doing well in recent years. Heads Up for Tails, a Delhi-based omnichannel pet food and grooming business, has received a major boost during the pandemic, also attracting support from Sequoia Capital India, among others.
Other pet startups including Pune-based Pawfect, Bengaluru-headquartered Supertails backed by Alteria Capital, and Ahmedabad-based pet products company Just Dogs , and pet care brand D2C Wiggles have also joined this booming sector.
Anirban claims that in the last eight months since its inception, Onpets has gained a user base of 800 customers with a retention rate of 27%. The seeded business also plans to generate revenue of Rs 40 lakhs for the 2022-23 financial year and aims to increase that number to 6,000 customers by the end of the financial year.
“We are also getting requests from Bengaluru and Gurugram among other metropolitan cities for online consultations. But we see a bigger gap in Tier II and Tier III three cities,” says Anirban.
In the near future, Onpets aims to expand its operations to Dispur and a few other cities in West Bengal. The startup also aims to reduce the time it takes for last-mile delivery and is looking to add more vets to the platform.
“Currently, once a pet owner makes an application, our vets come in two to three hours. We want to bring it down to 60-90 minutes. Similarly, we also want to reduce the delivery time of drugs,” concludes Anirban.