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This Cat DNA Startup Made a Deal with the Sharks on Shark Tank

Don Schaefer, Specialist, Social Media, Consumer Technology Association
Genetic testing for dogs has become popular among pet owners, but cats have been a bit of a mystery in terms of ancestry. Basepaws, a CES 2019 Eureka Park exhibitor and CTA member, wants to help cat owners get to know their feline friends a little better by introducing genetic testing for cats.

We caught up with CEO Anna Skaya to discuss their new product and recent success during their appearance on Shark Tank.

Why did you first start Basepaws? What problem were you trying to solve?

My own genetics story began in 2009, when I first got tested. Both my parents are scientists and when genetic testing became available for the consumer, I was excited to learn all I could. Most of my results were standard - my eyes are green, my coffee consumption can be astronomical, but I also had a thirteen times higher risk for a very serious disease. Thus, started my (very personal story) with genetics. With this as the backdrop, I arrived at Singularity University, where the idea for Basepaws was born.

Basepaws is using feline genetics to better understand feline health, inside and out, and using comparative genetics to help us better understand humans too. Our database of feline genetic and behavioral data is the largest in the world and will help owners, veterinarians, breeders and rescues provide better care and ultimately understand the link between our pets’ DNA and its traits, nutritional needs, and likelihood for common disease.

Technology that has been around for decades and is finally affordable, is changing the way we take care of our pets. Genetic testing is a game changer in the pet space, and Basepaws is changing the way we care for our cats, inside and out.                        

How does the technology behind Basepaws work?

We’ve been on the market as a product for over a year and have sold more than 7,000 CatKits. Our first product, The CatKit, is a feline breed report to better understand mixed breed cats. There are 100 million cats in the U.S. alone, and 95% of them are mixed-breed Domestic.

That really doesn’t tell you much about what may be one of the most important things in your life. Basepaws can shed new light and give you a better understanding into that mysterious fluffball on your couch. We collect the DNA from cheek cells via a simple, at-home cotton swab. We’ve just started to sell on Amazon and will be adding other big retailers next. Our next big plan is to add more health tests and to start selling within the veterinary channels and to use the data that we collect to provide data-driven products and services that are personalized for pets based on their individual needs.

You recently appeared on Shark Tank and made a deal with two Sharks, Kevin and Robert! Tell us a little about that experience.

Getting on the show took work - we had to show that not only are we a successful business, but we can create a fun story that is engaging and relatable. We had to sell the producers of the show on the fact that every pet’s parents wanted a healthier life for their pet, and this product just made sense!

When we arrived in Culver City to film the show we were quite nervous, but the producers and the Sharks were very nice, and it was so easy to just share our story - all the stress melted away. I loved having my cat, Koko, there with me. As soon as we both walked into the Tank and I saw the Sharks laugh, I knew it was going to be okay. She stole the show. She always does.