Digitizing the pet industry: Early Stage

Pet care is a global booming business, and Asia is not an exception.

Unsplash Puppy.

Humans have always taken care of pets. However, historically, animals have had specific roles in households. For instance, dogs were reared to guard the home, or cats were expected to catch mice. Eventually, changing human behaviors and an increasing disposable income have led to a rising global pet acceptance, and pets are today recognized as a human’s close companion, or even a new status symbol.

Today, pet owners are increasingly treating their pets like members of the family, which entails splurging money to provide them with the kind of care their ancestors did not have. Increasing demand from pet owners for more healthy, organic and nutritious food, among other pet services, is coming not only from the high-income group, but also the middle-income group.

Global market research firm Euromonitor calls this trend “pet humanization”, and a handful of companies have jumped onto this bandwagon, providing a vast range of services and animal-focused products, from “social petworking” events, to dog beer, or pet insurance.

The Southeast Asia pet care market is expected to hit 1.4 billion by 2020, reflecting a compound annual growth rate of 6.8% during the forecast period, according to analyst firm Future Market Insights, which added that innovation remains the key to getting a competitive edge in this market.

Even Grab, whose main lines of business are ride-hailing and payments, has come to realize the importance of including pets when innovating. The firm launched GrabPet in February, a service that allows pet owners to commute with their furry animals. GrabPet is also the first pet transportation service in Singapore that includes additional insurance coverage for the pets themselves. In the same vein, Singapore-based bike-sharing firm SG Bike currently has bicycles with pet baskets available in some parts of Singapore.

Considering how the “pet tech” industry is booming, for this week’s “Early Stage,” KrASIA looked at a few startups in Southeast Asia that focus on serving animals in an innovative way.

Peto is an Indonesian startup founded in 2016 which runs a pet-centric mobile app that provides various on-demand professional pet services, including at-home pet care solutions and an in-app shop where users can buy pet-related essentials and have them delivered home. The app also has a social networking feature, allowing pet parents to adopt pets, find play buddies, or even suitable mates for their pets. The firm is active in Malaysia and Indonesia and has around 50,000 registered pets on its app. Peto is also one of the five startups from the first cohort of Xcelerate, the accelerator program run by Indonesian ride-hailing giant Gojek in partnership with Digitaraya.

PetInsure is a Thai-based online pet-insurance service that delivers different pet insurance packages covering all veterinary bills, including vaccination, treatment from injuries to specific illnesses such as diabetes, and even death. The company also provides at-home check-ups for pets. Pets are eligible for coverage during their entire lives, as long as their owners renew their policies. The startup was incubated from the Digital Ventures Accelerator in Thailand and won the Samart Innovation Award in 2017.

Perrobox is a Singapore-based company founded in 2015 that operates a subscription lunch box service for dogs. The firm’s delivery food box consists of two locally-sourced treats, in addition to toys and other goodies for dogs. The service can be customized depending on the dog’s preferences, allergies, size, and bree. The company promises to pick the healthiest local brands, and offers a convenient shipping delivery system within three days from the order.

JomPaw is a Malaysian-based platform created to provide professional pet-sitting, daycare, dog walking, and dog training, amongst other services. Founder Agnez Lim, who has a master’s degree in biotechnology, worked in business consulting and e-commerce after graduation. Her grief over the death of her beloved pet spurred her to sort JomPaw, a one-stop-shop for pet services in Malaysia. The company says that to assure its users regarding the pet sitter’s professionalism, it has a stringent hiring process where only 30% of the applicants end up coming on board. The firm has a platform where users can search among pet sitters and read past reviews from other pet owners. It also allows pet owners and sitter to chat and met up before making a booking.

“Early Stage” is a series where the writers of KrASIA highlight startups that caught our eye for the week.