Alumna realises a pet dream

12 December 2019

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Niannian Lian, a 26-year-old UNNC alumna, has successfully developed her brand “Furrytail” to become one of the leading companies in the pet industry, raking in sales of over 16 million yuan over the Double 11 day. She was also named as one of Hangzhou’s Top 10 Female Entrepreneurs in 2019.

“The pet industry is booming,” Niannian says. “Up to now, there is no well-known brand in China.” She wants to grasp this opportunity. 

This emerging market has attracted much attention and input from the capital market. “Furrytail” has already acquired over 100 m RMB capital from angel investor, Morningside Venture Capital, Xiaomi and Volcanics Venture. 

Unlike the companies focusing on a single category of products, Niannian said that “Furrytail” aims to include a full line of cat-related goods. "The growing group of new cat owners are usually young, single, with certain consumption power and willing to spend for 10 to 15 years on cats."

Niannian and her team therefore tried to develop unique designs and optimise supply chains based on their recognition of their target consumers. Currently, there are 21 products and 61 consumables available on “Furrytail”, from cat food, cat litter, catnip to water dispensers and feeders - everything you need to keep a cat – and several products quickly became popular.

Despite the optimistic prospect for the pet industry, starting an entrepreneurship is challenging. The first product of “Furrytail”, a snowy cattery, was “a dream product” for Niannian and even gained recommendations from celebrities like Fan Bingbing. Its high price tag, however, has discouraged many consumers and pushed Niannian to re-consider market demands.

Niannian said her experience at UNNC - from participating in student organisations, volunteering overseas, practicing internships in leading companies like Anheuser-Busch InBev and LVMH, to business framework and knowledge obtained in class - all helped her to better understand what she wanted and solidified her resolution.

Niannian’s outstanding extracurricular experience won her an offer to study at University College London (UCL), during which period she had the opportunity to visit pet shows and popular pet shows around the world.

"My mother said jokingly that I only needed a high school diploma to open a pet store, but this was different,” said Niannian. “Both UNNC and UCL gave me an international vision, the ability to think critically and a clearer self-cognition.”

“After years of preparation, I established "Furrytail" in March 2018 - a good entry point in the industry. We want to be top in the industry."