Wagging success


Akshay Gupta tells Sangeeta Yadav how he made Pet Fed a rage and how he is attempting to figure in the Guinness Book of World Record

Be it a Sunday brunch with your pooch at a garden restaurant, to a get away to Rishikesh or Mussoorie on a custom-made luxury bus for your pet, or trekking, swimming or doggie fashion shows or just showing off your pooch’s talent to others — pets and their owners are having a ball these days. Pet Fed, which organises an event each month around pets, lets you bond with your pet at a different level. The event has become the talk of the town because it has recently got funding from Dino Morea.

The brainchild, Akshay Gupta, left his family business to pursue his dream.

“After doing his BSc in Electronics from Hindu College in 2013, I joined my father in the manufacturing business of metal testing machines. Eight months later, I quit that and started working on this venture after I visited the Comic Con event. There is something for everyone’s liking but nothing for pet lovers. To fill this gap, Pet Fed came into existence,” Gupta, a resident of Model Town, tells you.

The 24-year-old, who did his schooling from Ryan International, Rohini, initiated the project in June 2014 and spent his entire saving to organise an event in November 2014 at Dilli Haat, INA.

“There were two major challenges. First, we were entering the pet industry without any knowledge of it. I never had a dog in my life and had to research and consult a lot of experts. Second, to build our own contacts through cold-calling people and getting sponsors was a huge challenge,” Gupta says.

The event not only witnessed 9,000 footfalls but boosted the entry sale of tickets and foodstalls. To do brand marketing, a new campaign was launched — Play For The Strays. Singers travelled all over the city — to open markets like Khan Market and malls — to tell people about the event and played music in the support of the cause.

“The total budget of the event was Rs 35 lakh and I spent my entire savings on it. Adnan Khan, a UK certified trainer in Delhi, trained our volunteers in  handling the dogs, studying their body language and  predicting a fight and intervening at the right time to prevent injuries to owners and their pets. For every 50 dogs, there has to be one person monitoring them. Vet hospitals lent us  ambulances and put up health check-up stalls and grooming stations. From aiming to get at least 4,000 people to getting 9,000 in the first event, was a big achievement,” Gupta recounts.

It has been two years since the first event was organised. Since then, there has been no looking back for Gupta. The second event took place in Kolkata on March 1, 2015, and then at the Garden of Five Senses in Delhi in December 2015 where 13,000 people turned up with around 1,800 dogs. The next event, which is scheduled for December 17 and 18, 2016, at the NSIC Ground, has a budget of around Rs 1.5 crore and has already backing from the pet industry.

“This time, we will be attempting to make it to the Guinness Book of World Records for getting 1,500 dogs or more to the event where the owners will be tying bandanas to their respective pets within a limited time-frame. The current record stands at 748 which was made in Australia. It’s a well-co-ordinated event that has to happen within three minutes,” Gupta tells you.

Apart from organising Wagging Sundays brunch  at various restaurants and pet fests, there are three-day Bring Your Own Dog Getaway trips organised at Mussoorie and other places.

“We take six to seven families to destinations where they can do trekking, go to waterfalls, indulge in treasure hunt contests etc. This costs Rs 15,000 including family of two people and their dog’s accommodation, travel and food. We have two luxury buses custom-fitted with dog beds for these trips,” Gupta says.

Talking about how restaurants have become pet friendly, Gupta says:

“Getting a space for activities is the most tricky and difficult part as the restaurant and banquet owners have concern over hygiene issues and safety. But things are changing now with emerging pet-friendly cafes like Cafe Canine, Tabula Beach Cafe, Cafe Red Garden Kitchen and Cooper’s Bar and Grill. There is a certain protocol that the owners have to follow for safety purposes. These cafes have built a connection with the guests on an emotional level. They like to come back to them again and again because they enjoy the whole experience,” he tells you.

(The article got published in Pioneer Newspaper – http://www.dailypioneer.com/sunday-edition/sunday-pioneer/backpack/wagging-success.html)


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