Innomalous revolutionizes pet food: CEO Abhishek Agarwal shares vision

How Innomalous Leads Quality & Sustainability in Indian Pet Industry

Abhishek Agarwal, CEO, Innomalous

In an interview with Petbiz India, Abhishek Agarwal, CEO and Chairman of pioneering pet food manufacturer Innomalous, discusses how the company is committed to bringing genuinely healthy and natural pet food to Indian pet parents through a combination of innovation, transparency and conscious business practices.

  • Can you tell us about your background and how you got started in the pet industry with DawgieBowl and Pawcrafted? Describe how Innomalous started and how the company has evolved since its inception in 2016. What were some of the challenges you faced when building Innomalous?

Abhishek Agarwal :  In 2016, we launched DawgieBowl to bring genuinely healthy and natural pet food to market. As pioneers in this category, DawgieBowl’s growth provided profound insights into the rapid expansion of the segment.We needed an expanded manufacturing set-up, so we contemplated outsourcing to a third-party manufacturer. However, we discovered that most pet food manufacturers had yet to embrace the natural movement.

Given our commitment to unwavering standards in raw materials, processing, ethics and sustainability—the very essence that distinguished us—we opted to retain manufacturing control.So we invested in a state-of-the-art manufacturing unit in Noida. The natural extension of this capability to others in our position gave rise to Innomalous’ private-labeling initiative.

Today, we collaborate with diverse brands to help them private-label their range of natural products. We are united by strong values, a passion for pets, and a shared dedication to providing nothing but the best.

  • How has the pet food industry evolved since you started Innomalous, and how do you see it changing in the future? How do you balance the need for economic viability with the desire to create sustainable, high-quality pet food products?

Abhishek Agarwal : Over a decade, the pet industry has undergone a transformative shift, propelled by a change in the consumer mindset towards becoming “pet-parents.”

The industry now serves as a prime example of consumer-driven change, where pet-parents actively educate themselves about their pets’ nutritional needs. At Innomalous, we have been pioneering this change for the past seven years. Rather than merely adapting, we have consistently been at the forefront, anticipating and celebrating the positive response from pet-parents.

The primary function of pet food has always been to offer quality nutrition cost-effectively. Over the years, the quality has suffered the consequences of a race to reduce costs.To undo this damage, we start by fixing the basics. We source high-quality ingredients to deliver optimal nutrition and use modern tools like AI and Machine Learning to optimize costs throughout the supply chain. This combination helps us maintain a balance between economics and aspirations.

The industry now serves as a prime example of consumer-driven change, where pet-parents actively educate themselves about their pets’ nutritional needs

Abhishek Agarwal, CEO, Innomalous

That said, the products we manufacture do retail with a slight premium versus traditional pet foods. Our target clients and customers are cognizant of the cost of quality and are comfortable paying a premium for the additional value.

  • Despite your modern conditioning, you believe in traditional business practices like profit and principles. How do you balance these two priorities in your role as CEO and Chairman of Innomalous? As CEO and Chairman of Innomalous, how do you inspire and incentivize initiative, innovation and integrity among your team?

Abhishek Agarwal : I don’t think balancing the two should be difficult for any competent person in my position. From my point of view, the two practices are not optional for any business.Our value system was as dear to us on Day 1 as it is today. Being bootstrapped, we didn’t have a choice but to be profitable. I strongly believe that has greatly aided our decision-making and helped us grow sustainably. I’m a non-believer in cash-burning business models. Terms like Growth Hacking and Loss Leader give me hives.

I am lucky to have built a core team that does not need frequent pep talks. However, I lead by example and emphasize staying ahead of the curve to keep the team at its best. I encourage curiosity and innovation in the interest of long-term gains, even at the cost of short-term productivity. I allow space for creative freedom to reinvent the wheel when needed.

The spirit of ownership, timely and genuine acknowledgement of efforts, and investment in the personal and professional growth of the team keep the initiative, innovation and integrity constant at Innomalous.

  • Can you talk about the role that technology plays in Innomalous’s manufacturing processes, and how you use it to improve the quality of your products?

Abhishek Agarwal : We see technology as a force multiplier. Our current set-up greatly leverages advanced tech. We employ sensors and communication devices to monitor our processes. The data collected are analyzed to provide practical production insights thus creating a continuous improvement loop.This approach has contributed to ensuring consistent quality and cost optimization, and makes our products more sustainable than competitors.

  • How does Innomalous power several other formidable brands in the Indian pet industry as a robust and reliable private-labeling partner? How do you ensure that your manufacturing processes are transparent and ethical, and how do you communicate this to your customers?

Abhishek Agarwal : Integrity and transparency are core values at Innomalous. Brands working with us benefit from our expertise in the pet industry as a hands-on D2C brand as much as they do from our well-designed products and processes.We engage in brainstorming sessions with prospective clients where we also freely share our experiences and advice. This guidance helps them maximize their returns and find the swiftest road to success.

At Innomalous, ethics are not limited to client engagement. We start at the bottom by prioritizing safe working conditions for our workers, fair and timely wages, and professional treatment. Our raw materials are sourced from vetted vendors whom we’ve formed close relationships with over the years. Our commitment to protecting the environment, our workers, and our consumers make up our code of ethics.This assurance and belief in the manufacturer helps partner brands enter the industry confidently and grow exponentially.

  • How does Innomalous’ B2B White-Labeling wing work with brands internationally to enable superior products to reach more pet households every day?

Abhishek Agarwal : The need for high-quality pet food products is not limited to the Indian pet industry; it is a global demand. India harbors the potential to create an international impact by exporting affordable, future-ready pet food products.

Innomalous is keen to be a front-runner in this arena. We engage in detailed discussions with international brands, small and large, to understand the nitty-gritty of their requirements. Our dedicated team works towards analyzing these conversations to find opportunities in the global market.Why should pets abroad miss out?

  • How did the overwhelming success of DawgieBowl lead to the establishment of Innomalous’ fully equipped, AI-enabled, smart manufacturing unit in Noida?

Abhishek Agarwal : The success of DawgieBowl paved the way for Innomalous to reach for new horizons. It enabled us to have frequent interactions with pet-parents who gave us valuable insight into the urban household pet’s lifestyles. These discussions also reinforced our belief that the future of pet foods was natural.

Manufacturing has been an in-house process for us since day one. We started small but had to scale pretty quickly as the demand soared. One of the biggest challenges we initially faced was the absence of plug-and-play machinery and equipment. Since many of our products were novel, we had to design and fabricate their production line too. This deep understanding of the machinery gave us greater control over our products and production variables.

Add a few years of hands-on operational experience, and we quickly understood that tech is a manufacturer’s best friend.When our facility had to expand to cater to the growing market demand, we knew it had to be a smart manufacturing unit. We employed Industrie 4.0 practices to build an IIOT-enabled, state-of-the-art facility. This AI-powered manufacturing helped us build a robust supply chain of modern pet foods and consistently deliver superior products to our brands and consumers.

  • How does Innomalous bust the myth that truly good, natural pet foods are not scalable due to low economic viability? How does Innomalous leverage technology to scale without compromising on the quality of its products or morals?

Abhishek Agarwal : Improving the economic viability of natural foods is a multifaceted process at Innomalous.We achieve this by lowering the initial capital investment for brands, enhancing product performance and palatability, standardizing product features, extending shelf-life, and of course, optimizing our operations through technology.These intentional transformations make natural pet foods truly market-ready and scalable.

  • Can you tell us about the government policy amendments and reforms that Innomalous advocates for to standardize and regulate pet foods?

Abhishek Agarwal : We strongly believe that solid regulations and higher enforcement of standards on a policy level will create a sustainable impact and grassroots transformation in the pet food industry.The IS 11968-2019 BIS standard is the only prescribed document with recommendations for Indian pet food manufacturers and brands today. However, none of these standards are enforced or have warranty repercussions for non-compliance.

Incidents of brands using harmful ingredients, printing incomplete or inaccurate labels, arbitrarily using terms like ‘natural’, ‘organic’, ‘balanced diet’, and ‘hypoallergenic’, even when they do not apply, and other examples of misrepresenting information on labels are common in the industry today.Our teams dedicate time to lobby for reform in this space. We focus on raising quality standards for ingredients, processes, and final products, formalizing labelling guidelines, defining packaging/marketing terminology, and effectively implementing these recommendations.

Until today, Innomalous has been fortunate to advise various government agencies on their efforts to regulate the pet food industry. We are committed to doing so until real reform occurs.Pet parents deserve to truly know the ingredients, nutritional details, manufacturer’s information, etc. on a pet food product, and pets deserve access to safe food items.We strongly believe that honest disclosure from brands only builds customer trust. When you are doing the right thing, there is nothing to hide.

  • How do you envision Innomalous contributing to the larger movement towards sustainability and conscious business practices in the years to come?

Abhishek Agarwal : I firmly believe ‘if you want to change the world, start with yourself’. Innomalous, today, reflects the values my co-founder and I have imbibed as individuals through our life journey. Our business is an extension of who we are, and that makes sustainable and conscious decision-making natural to us.

At Innomalous, sustainability is not treated as a stressful concern or issue. There is only one right way to do things, and that is to do them sustainably and consciously. We choose the most sustainable path from the get-go so we don’t have to reverse engineer to “accommodate” for a sustainable tag.We work with vetted local vendors for all our produce, we optimize energy and water consumption, we manage our waste responsibly, and we package in a utilitarian manner. We encourage all our partner brands to do the same across their processes.

Continual education is also an essential value at Innomalous. We treat being sustainable as a constant journey. This ensures we are on top of the latest ways to be more sustainable and that we get better every day.I believe that as Innomalous raises manufacturing and product quality standards, D2C brands will not settle for less. I hope that the aspects that make Innomalous a benchmark today are the norm soon and that we can continue to raise the bar.

  • Looking forward, what are Innomalous’ plans for growth and expansion in the pet industry? Can you share any exciting new products or projects that Innomalous has in the works?

Our industry needs to be driven by the goal of offering consumers the best. That’s what we’ve done and that’s what we plan to do.Currently, we are exploring partnerships with international brands to position India as a leader in pet food manufacturing.I also can’t wait for new revelations in pet nutrition to learn how we can serve our best friends even better. Whatever the next stage of evolution for pet food will be, we’ll hopefully be at the door to welcome the rest, once again.

  • Finally, what advice do you have for entrepreneurs looking to enter the pet industry, especially in India?

Abhishek Agarwal : While it was quite some time ago, I vividly remember being a young entrepreneur considering the opportunity that the Indian pet industry held for me. For aspiring entrepreneurs, my advice is concise.

‘Start’ is my first piece of advice. The right time is now, the grass is green here, the potential is boundless, and there are partners like us ready to welcome you in with open arms.Next, find your value system and stay true to it. Keeping your moral compass aligned will prepare you for the long journey ahead. When you have to make hard decisions, that is where you will find your answers. Make good products, prioritize your bottom line, treat your people ethically, keep learning, and put the pets first—always. Finally, never lose sight of the big picture. A well-backed “industry disruptor” may cause a temporary wave, but impactful, lasting revolutions happen consciously, intentionally, and sustainably. There is nothing wrong with running your venture like a marathon.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here
Captcha verification failed!
CAPTCHA user score failed. Please contact us!