Cat litter Thai startup forges new partnership to penetrate domestic market
A fully Thai-owned organic cat litter startup is tying up with Thonglor International Pet Hospital and a private investor to scale up its manufacturing process and grow sales by 10 per cent over the next five years.
Wealthy Moggie Innovation (WMI) expects the 10-million-baht investment to assist the company in implementing an active marketing strategy to raise brand awareness of "Hide and Seek" cat litter in the domestic market.
Vattanaporn Tungsagna, WMI's sales director, co-founder, who is also a cat lover, told a press conference on Wednesday that Hide and Seek is made entirely of Thai cassava.
"After finding out that the majority of cat litter in Thailand is imported, we were perplexed as to why there has been no made-in-Thailand product, even though we have plenty of natural sources. So we started experimenting until we found the right ingredients that are both effective at eliminating odours and safe for cats, owners, and the environment," he explained.
He estimates the product currently has a 1-2% market share in Thailand. He expects to reach at least 10% in the next five years. Meanwhile, he hopes to expand his pet shop partners from the current 400. According to Wattanporn, there are over 5,000 pet stores in Thailand.
The company aims to earn 22 million baht from product sales this year as there has been a surge in international orders. The company's plant can produce 40 containers per month.
"We also intend to launch a new innovative cat-litter product that will aid in the early detection of feline disease. The product will be available around the middle of the year," he said.
He added that the products were well received in the market, particularly in the international market. When compared to other brands, Hide and Seek clumps up quickly, according to customer feedback. Furthermore, the product is chemical- and odour-free, has long-lasting odour control, high absorbtion, and is safe to flush.
"We are now exporting to South Korea, Malaysia, Australia, and Dubai. We are in discussions with dealers both in India and Japan. Unfortunately, we are not popular in our home country. So, we need a more comprehensive marketing strategy to raise brand awareness," Wattanaporn said.
He added that Hide and Seek cat litter sales would help increase the value of cassava grown by Thai farmers by up to 16 times.
Poolperm T.charoenpoolporn, Thonglor International Pet Hospital executive director and finance director, said that growth opportunities in the pet industry average about 5-10% per year, as couples without children, LGBTQ groups, and the elderly are increasingly looking for pets. These people are willing to spend money on food, utensils, and services to improve the quality of life of their pets.
He believes that the joint investment with WMI will yield enormous returns.
Boonpaween Boonmechote, an independent investor and Thai Union Frozen Products' planning and strategy department manager, added that the goal of his joint venture is to bring about improvements in production processes, cost reduction, productivity improvement, expand distribution channels, and the opportunity to export cat litter products.
Wealthy Moggie Innovation has received support from Thailand's National Innovation Agency (NIA) through "Nilmangkorn" (Onyx Dragon horse), an accelerator programme that helps Thai entrepreneurs and startups grow their businesses.
Krithpaka Boonfueng, NIA deputy executive director, said the programme would educate and assist in the development of business plans and products by connecting business owners with NIA researchers and the investor network.
"WMI is our first onyx dragon horse from this programme. However, we intend to expand our Thai unicorn creations with 'Nilmangkorn Season 2', which will be open for applications soon," she said.
Pan-arj Chairat, president of the NIA, said that the programme was part of the agency's efforts to promote and support Thailand's innovation ecosystem. The goal is to address innovative business development and use innovative tools to increase their own competitiveness as well as build a better understanding of the mechanism of joint ventures, he added.