Founder , Harleys Corner
The primary concern for a pet parent is their pet’s nutrition. Who do they trust and what do they feed? You can ask a child his/her preferences but what about an animal, who is dependent on you to survive. In an era where processed food is the norm, Ishmeet Singh with his company “Harley’s Corner”, prepares fresh, nutritious food for pets.
Ishmeet Singh Chandiok calls himself “the dog chef”. After studying Hotel Management, he worked for exemplary hotels like Hyatt, JW Marriott and Kingfisher Airlines. Now he is the founder of “Harley’s Corner” which is India’s first ready-to-eat wet dog food.
Here is an excerpt from an interview:
Tell us about Harley’s Corner. How did it start?
I think I am the only dog chef and the only person who can prepare a five-course meal for dogs. It all started when I adopted my son Harley near a construction site. As a first time pet parent, I took the word of all the vets and bought the commercial dry food for him. I noticed that he would reluctantly eat that and would always wait around when I was having my dinner. I thought, as a foodie, I would never eat the same bland food everyday. So I thought why shouldn’t I cook fresh food for Harley. I first researched online about the food groups one can and cannot feed a dog. When I prepared it, he loved the food. He stopped eating all the dry food. That is how it started. I was living in a society in Mumbai which was very pet friendly. So whenever I cooked for Harley, I took a little extra and gave it to other pet parents as a trial. And then they came back and told me that their dogs loved the food and wanted me to cook more for them. They told me to charge them and when someone comes to you and tells you to prepare food and charge them for it, that is how the business idea comes up.
How tough was it to get the idea on the floor?
Cooking was never the difficult part as we have been trained in the technicalities of it in IHM, Mumbai. We know what matches without compromising on the structural integrity of the dish. Preparing food for Harley involved a lot of research. I realized that if I wanted to package these and sell it, I had to make sure it was nutritious and met all their dietary requirements. I enquired with my vets about a canine nutritionist. Sadly, there were none in India. I wanted to make sure that what I was selling was safe for the dogs. I took up a certification course on canine nutrition so now I know that my food is safe.
What are the variations you have done with ready-to-eat food?
We have four variations of standardized meals. Two are chicken, liver, vegetables and brown rice based meals; one is chicken and broken wheat based that is low on carbs, and one is brown rice and tuna fish based. Each variation has rice, vegetable and meat which are the dietary requirements of a dog. They cater to different dogs like some who are on the chubbier side or some who are allergic to certain meats etc. A study was done by scientists of the European Union, which is published on our website. They compared the fresh food diet and the dry kibbles. They concluded that dogs on a fresh food diet actually live longer. The fresh treats we have such as cakes, ice creams etc., are prepared keeping in the dietary restrictions in mind. Dogs are lactose intolerant so we don’t use milk in ice creams, but we use probiotics like curd. All our cakes are fat-free, sugar-free and preservative -free. And Harley is our chief-tasting officer. So if he likes the food then it goes into production.
What are the goals for Harley’s Corner ?
We definitely want to grow in terms of manufacturing. We want to introduce more meals like lamb based and pork based. We want to increase the range. But it will always remain an online brand. I learned about the dark side of the pet industry the hard way. When I met a couple of vets to ask them to promote my brand as it was Indian and a healthier alternative, one of them said that if the dogs become healthier after eating the food, they wouldn’t come back to the vet thus reducing his business. Hence, I do not want to go that route of retailer shops. Principally I cannot take that decision. That is why we will remain an online brand.
Listen to our conversation to know more about ishpreet’s journey and what are his future plan