In the 1990s, Salman Khan’s blockbuster Hum Apke Hain Kaun started a revolution in terms of pet parenting due to the popularity of a pug named Tuffy. Later Hutch mobile company’s popular advertisement where a pug follows a boy everywhere made pets popular among the masses. Rashi Narang, the founder of Heads Up For Tails(HUFT), is one such pet lover who fought with her in-laws to bring a Labrador Sara home. Soon, she founded HUFT to provide comfortable pet products.
Let’s go through the impactful journey of HUFT.
How Rashi Turned her Passion to Business?
In 2004, Rashi Narang joined Human Resource Development post-graduate program at the London School of Economics. Later, she joined a corporate sector job but it did not satisfy her. She wanted something else from her life. Finally, she shifted back to Delhi with her husband in 2006 and brought a Labrador home. She named it Sara.
This was a life-changing decision for her. While her in-laws were against the decision to keep pets at home but Rashi grew up with dogs. On her birthday in 2008, she somehow convinced her in-laws to bring pets at home.
But, that was not the end of problems related to Sara. When she searched pet products like beds, clothes, and food items, she was surprised to know that there are no good pet products in the Indian market. That is when she thought to launch a startup for pet products.
She started designing products in 2008. She designed several clothes for dogs but tailors refused to stitch them stating the reason that “we don’t stitch dog clothes”. Finally, one tailor agreed to do so.
But wait, here comes another problem for Rashi. No pet shop was ready to keep these products in their space. They all thought that nobody will buy it. Rashi continued her struggle and finally came up with an idea to set up stalls at Diwali and Christmas fairs. And, she was overwhelmed by the response of dog lovers. She received plenty of queries because these people never saw such products.
Finally, she rented a kiosk in Select CityWalk Mall and launched an e-commerce website as well with self-funding of Rs 5-6 lakh. In 2009, her husband was posted in Singapore and she shifted with him. Managing kiosk and e-commerce websites remotely became very difficult for her. HUFT raised its first funding of $1 million in Singapore. It helped Rishi to expand its retail business and product categories.
Growth of HUFT
In 2015, Bollywood released a multi-starrer movie named Dil Dhadkne Do. Pluto Mehra, a pet dog, narrated the opening scene of the movie in the voice of legendary Aamir Khan. It further accelerated the pet love among Indians. And, Rashi, the founder of HUFT, came back to India in the same year.
Things were different now. HUFT faced challenges from local pet brands. But, these brands had low-quality pet products. They all were mainly dependant on made-in-China products. In 2017, HUFT raised $2.6 million to compete in the market. The startup also launched healthy food products for pets. Availing of Chemical-free pet grooming and food products was the main objective of HUFT.
In 2018, HUFT launched a pet spa, grooming, and experience center in Khan Market. The pet startup raised a whopping $10 million in September 2019 to expand its operations in small cities also. Currently, HUFT has 41+ stores with 200 pet product categories around India.
Starting from 2018, HUFT almost doubled its revenue in every fiscal year. The company recorded a revenue of Rs 48 crore during fy20. In FY21, it recorded revenue growth of 75 percent that is lower than other years due to lockdowns. The firm claims to achieve a revenue of Rs 150 crore with 55 stores at the end of FY22.
On August 12, 2021, the startup raised $37 million in its series A funding round led by Sequoia Capital India and Verlinvest. The firm wants to utilize current funding in geographical area expansion and new product manufacturing.