(The following article is part of the series Uncharted Careers which aims to create awareness around unconventional career paths and professions and inspire young minds to follow their hearts.)
Animals are living beings and need much care from our society. Arpita Sandilya, through her initiative Taxi For Paws ensures a safe and reliable transport facility for pets. Let us find out more about her endeavor through the following excerpt from our exclusive interview with her.
Arpita Sandilya, founder of Taxi For Paws | File Photo
Taxi service exclusively for animals is a unique initiative. Where did you find the inspiration to start Taxi for Paws?
Before starting Taxi for Paws, I was working in the insurance sector for six years after my MBA. I was always on the side doing animal welfare work but at a limited scale due to my busy corporate work schedule. Once I quit my corporate job to pursue animal welfare on a full-time basis, I involved myself in rescuing animals, bringing them home, keeping them until they were treated, and coordinating their adoption.
In this process, I had to send animals to far-off places. That’s when I realised the need for safe road transport for animals. When I could not travel long distances, I had to look for other decent road transport but I was not able to find any. Within about two years, at the end of 2021, I launched Taxi for Paws- an exclusive taxi for people who want to travel with animals, operating in Navi Mumbai, Thane, and Mumbai. The entire initiative stems from the fact that there is a need to be fulfilled.
Animal welfare is also a concern for the state. Do you think any change in policymaking can help strengthen such an initiative?
It will be a boon if the government can launch a pet-friendly mode of transport affordable to all classes. Currently, the government identifies your pets as cargo. Long train journeys become tremendously exhausting for animals as they are kept in the non-air-conditioned cargo compartment without any human supervision.
You may book a first-class cabin to travel with your dog but the procedure to seek official permission remains tough and costly. The fine for animal cruelty is only rupees 50. Punishment for animal cruelty should be looked into too.
From a business perspective, there seems a lot of growth potential. How do you plan to expand this into a profitable business?
I am more than satisfied with my current business model. I can see how the business can scale up and generate manifold income but we are sticking to our existing model of ownership for the sake of quality. In the near future, I do plan on seeking investors to grow and expand but before that, I am making sure that my business is sustainable.
There is a lot of organising and re-organising to be done in terms of quality assurance such as installation of safety equipment in vehicles, hiring reliable drivers, keeping proper medical kits, etc. The demand is unmeasurable and so is the potential to grow this business. I also plan on venturing into a fully serviced animal ambulance sometime in the future. The journey is big and the vision is huge.
What are some of the challenges that you faced during your journey so far?
One of the biggest challenges I am currently facing is getting a reliable driver for my second car who would be willing to clean up the mess created by the pets inside the car. Animals can experience anxiety and motion sickness and it is difficult to find dedicated and friendly drivers. Even as we expand, it is difficult to find investors and collaborators who understand the value of the quality service we provide.
What advice would you give to people who would want to enter this kind of business?
The animal is your customer. Prioritise their comfort and safety. Satisfying the needs of the animals would keep their parents happy and willing to spend their money on your service. Customers will always come back for quality service and eventually money will follow.
(This is part of our Uncharted Careers series; if you know of someone who has dared to go against the grain, please email us at email@example.com.)