His love for dogs, affinity with the Himalayas and passion for organic living, coupled with the fact that there are no safe and organic chews available in the market for dogs, prompted 33-year-old Bhupendra Khanal to jump back into startups.
Khanal, who after starting his career as a business analyst in Global Analytics in Chennai, began his entrepreneurial journey as a founding member at analytics consulting firm Marketelligent in September 2007, which was acquired by Brillio in October 2014.
Khanal recently quit his chief executive officer position in Bengaluru-based social media analytics company Simplify360, which he founded along with five of his friends in 2009, to float Khanal Foods, a startup that offers all-natural super foods for dogs under its Dogsee Chew brand.
"The job is gone, but the ownership and responsibilities remain. I do hold a board seat (in Simplify360)," quips Khanal. "The push for Dogsee Chew came when I found out that there are no all-natural treats for dogs. And, my confidence just went really up when I discussed the product with dog behaviourists, nutritionists and veterinary doctors. I have huge support of this community and I am excited to see it happen."
The recently-floated startup currently offers three products under the Dogsee Chew brands -- bars, nuggets and puffies. These dog chew products are made from yak milk, which are high in protein, some fat and fibre content, low carbohydrates, free of grains and organic with no preservatives. Khanal claims that these products already have approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other international bodies.
Khanal Foods operates in an asset-light model and currently has a consortium of 1,500 villagers in the high hills of Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim and Darjeeling. The startup enables the consortium to produce the finished products by supporting them in the process like buying mats and cutters and extending financial assistance.
According to Khanal, the Indian dog food industry is estimated to be between Rs 800 crore and Rs 1,200 crore and is witnessing a growth over 30 per cent, year-on-year. Of this, dog chews account for about 15 per cent. "This industry is growing faster than the overall food industry, courtesy the organic growth of dog adoption and a forced growth due to the busy schedules of pet parents," he reasons.
The Dogsee Chew products are currently available on online marketplaces like Dogseechew.com, Pawsthepetstore.com, Dogspot.in and Amazon.in, besides at all pet shops in Bengaluru. "Our plan is to replicate the physical store presence throughout the country in the next three months. You will also see us move to few geographies outside of India in the January-March 2016 quarter," Khanal says.
Khanal Foods is bootstrapped so far and the company is gearing up to raise external funding in an angel round pretty soon to give it the initial push, before looking for Series-A by March 2016.
"We plan to close this year ending March with $100,000 of sales and target for $1 million in 2016. We will be operationally positive by mid of next financial year but will continue to spend in supply chain, brand and manufacturing set-ups. The journey is going to be interesting ..." Khanal says.