PETS, VETS AND THE PANDEMIC
How Satwagia keeps its positive outlook amid the economic downturn.
The pandemic (or the lockdowns that go with it) has introduced new hobbies to many people, like keeping pets. As a result, some businesses related to pets' needs, like pet clinics, pet foods, and pet care, grow significantly.
However, it's not exactly easy to be a pet owner in Indonesia. For instance, pet owners in rural areas still find it difficult to find high-quality pet supplies or conventional animal care services like salons and pet-care centers.
Seeing this situation, M. Zulfitra Rahmat, or Zul, and his friends founded Satwagia, a platform that offers integrated veterinary clinic services. Zul said that while there are many veterinarians in Indonesia, many of them are concentrated in big cities. On the other hand, many animal owners are located across small towns. Satwagia aims to bridge this gap.
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As a platform, Satwagia covers all of the needs of pet owners, like veterinary services, immunizations, grooming, sterilization, animal care, laboratories, surgeries, pick-ups, and online consultations.
Satwagia is simple to use. Pet owners can use the app to talk directly with veterinarians and get other pet-related assistance upon signing up. If the animal needs to be treated, the owner can go to a Satwagia-affiliated veterinary clinic. It will send medicines and vitamins based on the pet's condition if there isn't a nearby animal clinic.
The company pursues a social approach to gain users, including embracing many animal enthusiast communities. "Through our social approach, we collaborate with communities of cat, dog, and other animal lovers. We also advertise on all existing social media sites," said Zul.
Empowering each other
PT Teknologi Digital Veterinary created Satwagia in 2020. Zul said a year of research was required before he and his men started to develop the app.
"We conducted a survey before publishing this business to the public. Because Satwagia's founders are mostly vets who don't understand technology ... [creating the digital platform] was not simple," Zul said. "We did a lot of testing to make sure the app is easy to use for both pet owners and vets."
They started by making connections with other veterinarians. According to Zul, Satwagia needed the help of expert vets the most at the time.
"Because the application was new, we had problems finding a veterinarian who wanted to work with us. So, we teamed up with the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at IPB University to develop some features on the app that connect clinical veterinarians with professional veterinarians for online consultations via real-time chat and video calls. So far, we have about 50 veterinarians," Zul said.
Despite or perhaps owing to the pandemic, Satwagia was able to achieve a monthly turnover of up to Rp 500 million with over 24,000 recorded transactions. The app's service is presently available in Jakarta, Bogor, Serang (Banten), Metro Lampung) Bandung, Surabaya, Banjar Baru, and other cities (South Kalimantan).
Zul is planning to introduce a new service that will allow veterinary house calls for pet owners who cannot visit the clinic. The service includes examination, grooming, and disinfection.
The businessman believes that Satwagia will be able to grow sustainably in the future, particularly in terms of satisfying the demands of the country's animal lovers.
"Our goal is to have 500 clinics and serve 2 million people by 2025. As Satwagia means 'happy animals', we hope that pet owners and their pets would be pleased with this platform," said Zul.
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