After graduating from Hindu College, Delhi University, Akshay Gupta began exploring ideas to start a business. Gupta, who was inspired by Comic-Con, the globally popular entertainment and comic book convention, zeroed in on the pet care industry to start his events business. “Events around pets do very well in the West and the space offered a promising business opportunity in India,” he says.
In June 2014, Gupta founded pet events company Pet Fed. The startup seeks to be a forum for pet lovers, allowing them to meet all their pet-related needs—from pet food to pet-friendly cars and everything in between. “There were events for food, music, fashion, comedy, etc., but there was hardly anything for animal lovers. Now our event has become India’s biggest festival for pets and pet lovers,” says Gupta, Founder and CEO.
Excited by the business opportunity, Gupta, who doesn’t own a pet, started his events company, but there was a small problem: He didn’t know much either about pets or organising large-scale events. “Besides, I had no coach who could teach me how the industry worked and no monetary backing either,” says Gupta.
The 25-year-old, who started the company by investing Rs 8 lakh, saved over several years, while he worked at his father’s business, had to learn by hit and trial. “We started with what little understanding we had, improved on things that worked for the business and dropped those which didn’t,” he says. The startup, which generated a revenue of close to Rs 90 lakh in 2016-17, initially struggled for want of funds. Lack of money was a big hindrance in building a team.
“Many a times, I thought of folding the venture and going back to my father’s business,” says Gupta. Securing sponsors was another uphill task. “When I went scouting for event sponsors, a lot of brands didn’t take me seriously. They thought I was just a kid out of college who wasn’t very sure of what he was doing,” says Gupta.
Pet events not being a particularly well-entrenched business concept only added to his woes. “Brands are used to sponsoring music and food fests but pets was— ..
Pet events not being a particularly well-entrenched business concept only added to his woes. “Brands are used to sponsoring music and food fests but pets was—and still is—a new field for them. It was extremely hard to make them understand that pet lovers were an important, sizeable target group to engage with,” says Gupta.
Over time, brands’ interest in Pet Fed’s events has increased and now the startup counts several prominent names including Amazon, Tata Motors and Daikin among its sponsors. It has worked with 100-plus brands till date. “The mentorship that I received at the hands of Rana Atheya, founder of Dogspot, and Deep Bajaj, founder of Pee Buddy, helped me a lot in overcoming business challenges,” says Gupta.
Pet Fed, which has a staff of just six, including the founder, grew its top line five times over the previous year. It’s last event saw a participation of more than 25,000 people. Bouyed by the response, the startup expects to end 2017-18 with a five-fold growth and is looking to expand to more cities.
Besides Delhi, it will be organizing events in Mumbai, Bengaluru, Pune and Chandigarh this financial year. “Delhi has been our home ground—we have got our training here and have established our presence, now it’s time to scale operations and expand to other cities,” says Gupta.
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