How this founder paves the way for feline DNA testing to improve the lives of cats around the world

There’s one thing animal lovers all have in common – they want the best for their four-legged friends. In March, the American Pet Products Association announced that the industry has reached more than $ 100 billion in annual sales, the highest level in industry history. Thirty-four billion was spent on veterinary care and product sales, an increase of 7.2%. According to Tasks, 67% of US households include a pet, 53% own dogs, and only 35% have cats. With more households owning dogs, there are more products on the market for testing dog DNA than feline DNA kits. On Chewy’s website alone, it’s a 10 to 3 ratio. However, as technology advances and interest increases, companies like Basepaws are making DNA kits for cats more accessible and more precise.

Anna Skaya, CEO and Founder of Basepaws, is a pioneer in feline genetics while helping cat lovers take better care of their pets by providing reports on breed, DNA and dental health. With ever-increasing genomics database, she and her team are on a mission to improve the lives of cats around the world by understanding, genetically, what makes each cat unique.

When it comes to the number of genomes sequenced in the canine versus the feline, the research goals and funding available for the two areas appear to be completely different. For example, Project 99 Lives sequenced approximately 200 genomes of domestic cats, compared to Project Dog10K, which aims to sequence the genomes of 10,000 wild dogs and canines and all known dog breeds. At Basepaws, he corrects this imbalance between the two areas. It is building the world’s largest feline genomics database, currently containing tens of thousands of feline genomes sequenced at high or low depth.

“The idea of ​​genetics really caught my eye,” Skaya said. “It was based on a need I had for my own cat, an interest that I found absolutely fascinating. … I had the chance to meet the CEO of 23andMe. She had just invested in a similar company. at Basepaws but for dogs. She was very passionate about consumer genomics for humans and animals. And her passion rubbed off. I watched her talk to our group and it clicked. I had a cat. J was really passionate about doing something in science. I’m not a scientist, and had to find a co-founder. I heard her say that someone should do this for cats and call 23andMeow We all laughed I went home that night and bought the URL that was the start.

Skaya’s startup career began at Bazaarvoice. She started at the bottom and worked her way up. Eventually, management gave her an opportunity to develop Bazaarvoice UK Once the office was up and running, she decided to go back to school to get an MBA.

During her last talk on behalf of Bazaarvoice, an investor approached her, asking if she would be interested in a position with a team of four to develop the idea for City Deal. She put her master’s degree on hold and within a week she met the other team members. In 18 months, Groupon launched the process of acquiring the company. She then became CEO of Russia Groupon.

“I got there when I was twenty-seven,” Skaya explains. “There was a team of 200 people and the mandate was to reach 600 by the end of the year. We were in the middle of the year. I’m the CEO, and I’m totally freaked out. I’m moving from managing part of City Deal in the UK to managing the whole in Russia. … My experience with this company really hardened me. I got there and a lot of big, beefy men raised their eyebrows. I had a lot to prove. I left when the company went public.

Skaya then launched two other companies, VisualDNA and breakupbuddy. “My claim to fame is that I can sell things online,” she smiles. “I can get people to watch the ads. … By the time I was done with breakupbuddy, I was done with the advertising. I was tired of chasing you around the web trying to sell you things. You could say I had a little identity crisis as to whether it was all worth it. I wanted to do something meaningful. “

She was accepted to Singularity University in Silicon Valley, now Singularity Group. At that time, the program was backed by Google and based at NASA’s Mountain View Research Center. He focused on the challenges and opportunities presented by exponential technologies like robotics, artificial intelligence and genetic sequencing. During the one-year program, she built

Without having any income, Skaya was able to raise $ 300,000 in pre-seed funding. She took part in Shark Tank and even faced investors telling her they didn’t want to invest because they were dogs. She and her team are now set to close an A-series in the coming months.

“If it had been a company of dogs, anything doggy, I think it would have been a lot easier,” she comments. “The investors who I think would have been absolutely perfect for us did not identify with the problem we were solving. I remember a very famous investor taking him and half of his team to Los Angeles to meet us. A perfect fit at all levels. Everything was great. It was because he wasn’t a cat. … I wrote it down, ‘I’m not a cat person.’ ”

As Skaya continues to transition and expand Basepaws, she is focusing on the following essential steps:

  • Advisors on board. They will help you navigate uncharted territory.
  • Dark. If you think about a situation for too long, you’ll never get started.
  • Ask yourself if you will regret not doing something. If the answer is yes, face your fear and give it a try.

Skaya concludes, “Helping others and watching them grow is a great feeling. “

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