How do you now go about creating an entirely new marketplace? That was the question facing Rukmini Vaish, the founder of pet travel startup Collar Folk, an entirely new concept in a new market in India.
A niche market can still be a fantastic opportunity
Rukmini Vaish: India is the fastest growing pet market in the world. Even in terms of people getting pets. The numbers that are floating around are: 600,000 pet dogs are added to families every year. So yes, the opportunity is huge. It is a new market at the moment.
By way of our experience in the last three months, it is just such a compelling and latent need. The moment you talk about it, people jump at the opportunity.
Rukmini, you're trying to define a market from scratch. How will you tackle the challenges that you face and how will you overcome them?
Rukmini Vaish: Facing challenges, we'll do that across two fronts. The first one being that, given that we're trying to create a market, the stakeholders could be both customers and partners. A need to educate them and to get them to adopt the idea, that is what is taking us time to figure out and I think that the biggest way we try to overcome is by not being inflexible.
You would want that everything happens on your product and the transactions happen there as well, but we've actually been very fluent in our approach and with people's requests. We've documented each of the requests rigorously so that the next level of product-development and product-offering is such that we'll address the issues and concerns and questions that people will have.
What's next is we've identified the top 5 cities where we want to focus, where we've seen very good traction from consumers and a lot of demand. The idea from an inventory point of view is we're adding inventory which are at a driving distance from these cities so that's one. The other thing is, we've realized that we don't want to be just someone who drives to pet-friendly hotels and resorts which is what you see on the website right now.
It's important, just telling someone that you'll drive across the country or their properties are pet-friendly doesn't help because people still want to call you and want to ask how they travel and whether this driving distance is actually okay for the pet. When we go there, what are the do's and don'ts? What can we do at that destination?
The idea is from suggesting these places, we want to curate the entire experience, which is why one step in the process, the first phase is our focus on the travel part that we will integrate, the second phase that we're working on is the experience part.