Homegrown pet food brand Fresh For Paws prioritizes nutrition

The journey of Fresh For Paws founder Srishti Bhatia in launching a natural pet food company in India

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Founded in 2018 by Shrishti Bhatia, Fresh For Paws is an Indian pet food brand on a mission to provide nutritious and natural pet food options to pet parents across the country. With a background and certification in canine nutrition, Bhatia’s personal passion for pets fueled the creation of Fresh For Paws.

Launching a Pet Food Startup Out of Love for Animals

Bhatia’s lifelong involvement in caring for her family labrador Vanilla sparked an interest in pursuing canine nutrition more formally. As a child, Bhatia was very particular about Vanilla’s diet and curious about how nutrition impacted canine health. This curiosity eventually grew into a business idea of providing nutritious pet food tailored to pets’ needs.

After graduating from Delhi University, Bhatia pursued a Company Secretary course, completing the Executive level. However, after 1.5 years of intensive research into pet nutrition and experimenting with recipes at home, Bhatia decided she could not wait any longer to launch her passion project. With encouragement from her family to follow her dreams, she left a more conventional career path and dove into the pet food industry as an outsider and newcomer.

Since its founding in June 2018, Fresh For Paws has been on a mission to shift pet parents towards more natural, species-appropriate diets that are free of artificial ingredients and support overall pet health and happiness. Before launching commercially, Bhatia undertook extensive research and development to formulate recipes and finalize production methods and packaging formats suitable for ready-to-eat pet meals.

Educating Pet Owners on Nutrition Trends

According to Bhatia, India’s pet food market is rapidly evolving and projected to grow at a 13.5% CAGR between 2021-2026. With urbanization, rising incomes, and greater health awareness, Indian pet owners are shifting away from cheaper commercial foods and increasingly seeking out premium, natural options.

As one of the first companies to introduce ready-to-eat pet meals in India, Fresh For Paws entered the market when awareness of these products was low. Bhatia engaged in extensive direct outreach to customers and vendors to communicate the benefits of her products and educate people on the brand’s natural, health-focused principles.

Positioning pet food as a health product rather than a convenience product, Fresh For Paws aims to move pet parents towards more thoughtful, natural feeding approaches. Bhatia highlights that pets

Startup Challenges and Competition

Despite initial skepticism as a young female founder launching a novel product in a nascent industry, Bhatia persisted in tirelessly promoting her idea through offline and online channels. Lacking connections in the pet food world, she had to build relationships and credibility with vendors entirely through cold outreach and tenacious follow-up.

Gaining retailer trust and shelf space posed major obstacles in Fresh For Paws’ early days. With large multinational brands dominating the Indian market, Bhatia had to work hard to convince retailers to take a chance on her products. Major vendors were often uncooperative and pessimistic about the new ready-to-eat concept.

By directly addressing customer and vendor concerns and objections, Bhatia eventually managed to foster confidence in her offerings. Her hands-on, personal approach to managing all aspects of the business was central to growing brand recognition and cultivating a customer base.

Diverse Product Range and Quality Control

Today, Fresh For Paws offers a wide selection of grain-free, balanced, ready-to-eat meals, meal toppers and treats for both dogs and cats starting at 3 months old. With vegan, vegetarian and non-vegetarian recipes, the product line caters to pets’ various dietary needs and tastes.

Sourcing high-quality ingredients from trusted, standardized vendors is a top priority. Bhatia is closely involved in overseeing production and supply chain management to ensure stringent quality control at every stage. From raw material checks to packaging, each step is handled carefully to maintain nutrition and avoid bacterial contamination.

The ready-to-eat format enables two years of shelf life for unopened packets without compromising food freshness and nutrient density. However, opened packets must be consumed immediately like human leftovers and stored in the fridge if not finished in one sitting. This innovative packaging provides convenience for pet parents without concerns about preservatives or artificial preservatives.

Omnichannel Distribution and Targeted Marketing

Today, Fresh For Paws products are available both through brick-and-mortar retail channels and online channels: in pet stores across India, on major pet-centric marketplaces, and through mainstream e-commerce platforms like Amazon and Flipkart. The company also sells directly through its website and is launching on Blinkit for quick delivery.

To educate consumers and establish itself as a health-focused brand, Fresh For Paws relies on performance marketing campaigns and in-store promotions to create awareness about pet nutrition. Bhatia also provides direct pet nutrition consulting sessions to customers who want personalized advice.

On the social impact side, the company collaborates with local animal NGOs and feeder groups, sending food donations when possible. To operate more sustainably, Fresh For Paws emphasizes natural ingredients and plastic-free packaging.

Ambitions for Expansion and Growth

 After recently revamping its recipes to meet international quality standards, Fresh For Paws is now poised for global expansion in 2023. The company has been approached by several international distributors interested in bringing the products overseas.

With 100% year-over-year growth since starting up in 2018, Fresh For Paws has managed to carve out a niche for itself despite initial challenges. The company has cultivated a loyal, dedicated customer base that appreciates its founder-driven approach.

As operations scale, Fresh For Paws aims to maintain its focus on innovation, hands-on customer service and product quality. By sticking to its principles of health-focused, natural pet nutrition, the company hopes to continue disrupting the broader pet food market in India and worldwide.

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