A few months ago, The Daily Mail ran a story of a cab driver in Leicestershire who refused a fare because the passenger was a disabled person accompanied by his guide-dog. Days before this incident, Nottingham Post wrote about a person whose ride request was turned down by three cab companies, as the drivers feared his pet could leave a mess in their cars.
Pets have always been at the receiving end of criticism when it comes to riding for-hire vehicles. No taxis entertain passengers with pet dogs — with the exception of guide-dogs in some cases. Drivers often reason that pets leave a mess and bad smell in their cars, and it may affect their future ride requests.
It’s the same case almost everywhere, around the globe.
But why keep a dog and bark yourself?
A Bangalore-based entrepreneur couple has found a way around this mess. The duo runs an online taxi-hailing service exclusively for pet animals. This means you can now take your pets to the vet hospital, salon, or airport, without having to worry about an altercation with the taxi driver.
“Pets are a neglected lot when it comes to getting a taxi ride,” said Santosh Shekhar, Founder of PetCab.in. “It is a basic need for pets to get timely treatment at vet clinics, hospitals, and salons. But none of the existing cab companies entertain passengers with pets. Their concern is justified — that these domestic animals could urinate or defecate in the car, spoiling the whole journey. Some pets even exhale foul smells, which could leave the entire cab stinking forever.”
Santosh and his wife, Ashwini Santosh, founded the startup in 2013. His eureka moment happened when he visited a pet-boarding service run by one of his friends in Bangalore. “Most of the pet owners found it hard to hire a taxi to pick up and drop off their pets at the centre. So they take them along in their own expensive cars. But they lose their temper when they find the seats ripped off or the upholstery spoiled by the pet. At times they hit the animal out of anger. That’s when I sensed an opportunity in pet taxi service,” explains Santosh.
PetCab ferries pets within Bangalore and outstations, addressing their daily travel needs. The firm facilitates pick-up and drop-off right at customers’ doorsteps, veterinary appointments, clinics, hospitals, boarding kennel, cattery pick-up and deliveries, grooming salons, airports, shipping, special events, etc.
The PetCab taxis are equipped with basic facilities, such as water, biscuits, mouth cap, first-aid kits, carpets, and nylon sheet to wash pets. All the drivers are pet-friendly as they have been provided with appropriate training before onboarding.
Currently, PetCab operates six cabs — two of which are owned by the company itself. It also offers customised cabs. Bookings can be made through its web app, mobile app, or via phone.
The company claims that, to date, it has bagged over 2,500 clients and completed more than 6,000 trips. It now plans to expand operations into other major cities.
Springforth Capital Advisors Founder Director Maheen Kannu is an investor in PetCab. “We are now in the market for a large round of funding,” Santosh mentioned.
Pet-focused verticals are a niche market, although pet ownership and pet-related startups have been on the rise in the recent years. Thus, is PetCab a ‘fur-ivolous’ startup idea, or is it something that is worth exploring not only in Bangalore, but in cities beyond?
Image Credit: PetCab.in