Anna Skaya, Founder and CEO of Basepaws, had worked for Groupon International in London and became Head of Sales for Groupon Russia in 2011. She was highly successful in her position and learned to be resilient, dedicated and laser-focused on growing a sustainable business. Skaya had graduated from the University of California in 2004 and returned to the Los Angeles area to attend Singularity University in 2016. She was fascinated by the concept of DNA testing provided by 23 & Me and other businesses that provided ancestry information for humans.
Having grown up with cat-obsessed parents, and being a cat lover herself, Skaya realized how interesting it would be to have DNA information for her cat and was certain that other cat “parents” would feel the same.
Cats and humans have lived together for thousands of years. According to a 2017-2018 survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA), there were 94.2 million pet cats in the U.S. for which their owners were willing to fork over an estimated $69.4 billion. Beyond the basics such as food, litter, and vet services, a significant number of cat owners purchase toys, treats, bedding, or hold birthday parties and establish Facebook pages for their beloved pet!
Skaya presented her concept at the Singularity University’s Global Solutions Program, Launchpad Incubator in 2016, and established a Facebook page to promote her new business. Basepaws won the Japan TechPlanter SF Award in 2017, and in 2018 Singularity University Global Summit showcased Basepaws as part of their 10-year anniversary.
According to Skaya, in addition to satisfying cat lovers’ curiosity about their own pet, gathering genetic data on cats may have broader implications. In an interview with John Siegel of “Built in LA” on May 26, 2018, Skaya explained that cats share over 250 genetic diseases with humans including HIV (FIV in cats) and feline leukemia. Cat mammary tumors have been used as genetic models for humans.
In January, 2019, Basepaws was exhibited at the Consumers Electronic Show in Las Vegas, and in March, 2019 won a Purina Pet Care Innovation Prize at the Global Pet Expo in Orlando, Florida.
Skaya is confident that creating a large data base containing genetic information on cats can play an important part in understanding human genetic diseases as well, and may assist pharmaceutical companies in creating better drugs for pets and humans. Basepaws runs its own laboratory and Skaya has plans to branch out to other animals as well. In addition to the genetic information about their own cat, consumers receive periodic updates on research and important information regarding cat nutrition and routine medical needs through the website and Facebook page.