Founded in 2018, and headquartered in Pune, Wiggles.in is today positioned as one of India’s fastest growing D2C pet care brand with presence across products services. In just 2 years, the start-up has already set up their own R&D and has a panel of in-house vets that manage all pet and pet parent concerns. Their products range from food to supplements as well as prescription medicines. It was during the lockdown in 2020 that the brand launched India’s first pet safe instant sanitiser as well as a state of the art boarding facility in Pune. The start-up raised $1 mn in 2019 in an angel round and is now raising funds as a part of pre-series A. The founder, AnushkaIyers, was recently recognised by Forbes in their 2021 Under 30 List. Wiggles.in is one of the few brand that has built a closed knit community ‘Wiggles Tribe’ that addresses concerns and clears doubts for pet parents in India.
In this StraightTalk with Medianews4u, Anushka Iyer, Founder and CEO, Wiggles.in speaks to us on her journey as a young entrepreneur.
At just 21 years, you’ve built a brand that has not just helped the pet community but has empowered pet parents, how has the journey been?
The journey so far has been an exhilarating one with a lot of learning, innovating, pivoting and making breakthroughs as we keep our ears to the ground and listen to what our customers have to say and then go about creating innovative and safe pet products. Wiggles.in has grown from a 3 member team to a family of over 150+ team members across India creating jobs in niche sectors such as Veterinary, Grooming, R&D, Sales, Dog Boarding and much more. What binds us together is our love and passion for animals and the vision to make a difference in this space. Our mission has always been to put the power back into the pet parents’ hands and empower them by educating them about the why’s & how’s of pet care. Wiggles was meant to happen, regardless of me, it was and is the need of the hour. I am just the lucky one chosen to be a part of this journey of transforming pet care in India.
Wiggles has scaled tremendously during the lockdown, what is the kind of growth you’ve seen?
The first lockdown in 2020 saw a lot of businesses and start-ups take a fall and suffer tremendous losses but thankfully, the pet care sector remained untouched albeit with a few nips and cuts. Wiggles.in grew 6X during the lockdown mainly because we were able to deliver on our promise of doorstep convenience when it came to veterinary services and our pet care products were being delivered Pan-India. Pet parents sent us earnest requests asking for pet sanitizers and we were able to launch India’s first Pet Sanitizer in response to the pandemic. Our first batch was sold out in less than 48 hours.
The panic amongst pet parents was real since movement was difficult and this made us set up a new service vertical called SmartVet in less than 72 hours, which could provide an online Video Vet Consultation service to pet parents across the globe. This was well-received by pet parents who needed the support and guidance of vets during these unprecedented times, with over 10000+ sessions being booked in the first few months. We also launched Fresh Pet Food during this time and were able to deliver across households. We realized that the pandemic was here to stay and the only way to function was to grow through it while keeping our pets safe. We are here to take responsibility so pet parents know come what may, Wiggles is by their side to help them in their journey of pethood, lockdown or not.
What were the major roadblocks during the last one year and how did you overcome these?
Covid-19 brought everything to a standstill. Online and offline delivery of products took a beating, travel restrictions were placed, the fear of infection was a constant deterrent, but in spite of all the challenges faced, Wiggles was able to rise above and beyond and provide pet parents with Vet on Call & Grooming services, albeit wearing PPE suits. 15000+ Kgs of Pet Food were delivered by Team Wiggles as we were practically forced to get into food production given the increased demand for pet food. We wanted to stand by pets as we are not just fair weather friends but here for the good times and the bad ones too. Our main and only intention was and is to do good for pets at all costs. We didn’t consider the pandemic as an opportunity but rather as a wake-up call to revalue our pets and protect them at all costs. We also launched India’s First Instant Pet Sanitizer – 100% alcohol free and which could kill 99.9% germs. Over the past year, Wiggles.in has grown 10X in FY20-21, serving over 20,000+ pets with products available Pan India.
How do you ensure client retention?
Since inception, we have had a sticky client base as our intentions to take responsibility for pet’s right through their pethood journey has held us in good stead. We have always kept our consumer as priority and been there with them at every step of the way. Be it attending calls at night or answering a pet food query, to creating awareness about preventive healthcare for pets, arranging free health check-up camps and rabies vaccinations drives to not supporting pet abandonment, we have been there through it all. We have been relentless in curating the best of products with supreme ingredients and ones which are vet-approved and personalized for pets. We have created labels which are transparent, used terms that are easily understood by the layman and chosen trained teams that have a service attitude inbuilt in their DNA. As a brand our support does not just end at the purchase cart but on the contrary it goes beyond and stays with regular updates and notifications about new launches and offerings. It is trust that speaks volumes which is apparent from the genuine feedback and testimonials received for our service.
What are some of the strategies that have worked for the brand?
Our aim is simple, to do good by pets at all costs and make preventive pet care affordable, easy and convenient for all our customers. We believe in keeping our ears to the ground and listening to what pet parent’s common concerns are and then absorbing feedback and innovating our offerings based on actual needs. Our responses are empathetic, compassionate and we take complete responsibility and accountability for all our actions. We believe in serving before selling. Our in-house team of experts are here to educate pet parents and ensure they stay informed through informative and relevant information through blogs, infographics, videos etc. As a D2C brand, we have come up with innovative products and labels which are honest, direct and completely transparent when it comes to showcasing what we stand for. We are more interested in telling pet parents about not what goes into the labels but why it goes into them. We are open and vocal about the reason why one ingredient works better than the other. This has made us come up with product ranges which are organic, herbal and safe for our pets. Our labels claim 100% human grade ingredients, products which are lick-safe and can be used by pets.We are proactive, not reactive. We want to put the power back in the pet parents’ hands. We want to be known for our reliability, our 24/7 vet care and our unique offerings for pets.
Who was your first or most significant mentor or teacher in the professional space?
My first mentor is my father who I also have the pleasure of working with at Wiggles.in. We make a dynamic father-daughter duo and this is really special for me. My father being a serial entrepreneur himself has always given me the opportunity to be a part of creating brands from scratch, scale them to new heights and dabble in various roles whilst dipping my feet into different sectors giving me interesting insights, making me realise what I love doing. My father has been a staunch believer in my passion for animals and has always supported me with any cause that I take up. There is empathy and compassion which play a major role in all that we do at Wiggles.
Apart from being a young entrepreneur…what are some other activities or hobbies that excite you? What are your weekends like?
I constantly find joy in doing, creating and learning something new. I read a lot! Reading helps me unwind, relax and turn off my brain after a long day. Currently on my reading list is this interesting read called ‘Hooked’ by NirEyal& Ryan Hoover. Just wrapped up ‘Happy Money’ by Ken Honda. There’s so much inspiration out there!
I enjoy trying new things, right from new experiences, new food. Although I am a creature of habit, I did realise you never know when something you decide to try inspires an idea. The more you try the more experiences you can pull from. You never know when something you try becomes the inspiration for your next marketing campaign. My dogs are my life and all that I do revolve around them. Apart from volunteering with organisations such as UNICEF, I usually end my day with long walks with my dogs, this helps me unwind, de-stress and clear my mind.
What are your plans for the next 3 years? What specifically do you want to achieve? Personally and professionally?
Over the next few years, Wiggles.in has quite a lot in store. We are research focused and are looking to create products that are backed by science and driven by love. Exciting times ahead for all of us at Wiggles since we have quite a few new launches planned and hope to be the number one choice for all things pets. As we scale, we are focused on building a workforce that consists of talented hires who are leaders in their own right. Overall, it’s safe to say that my day begins with Wiggles my Lhasa Aphso and ends with my company Wiggles.in.
What are your learning’s as a young woman entrepreneur?
COVID-19 has been a learning curve for most entrepreneurs and that includes me too. The whole world has been changing its ways ever since to survive the lockdown, COVID restrictions, operations and production at a halt. We need to pivot, adapt and be accepting of changes to build a resilient future. It is important to believe in yourself, your intuition and vision. It is imperative to always look for ways to improve your business and create value in people’s lives. As an entrepreneur, my aim is to create an environment where everyone in our team can accomplish anything and everything they’ve ever wanted. It’s really ok to make mistakes but it’s important to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, learn from failures and fail cheap. I feel the secret of all change is to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old but building the new. It is also important to choose your battles wisely.