i3 | August 01, 2019

Faces of Innovation: Anna Skaya of Basepaws

Basepaws Founder and CEO Anna Skaya has developed the world’s first at-home DNA test for cats, a tool designed to tell owners more about their cat’s breed as well as information about their health and habits. Basepaws collects DNA from the hair and cheek cells of a cat and uses it to analyze important data about the cat’s nutrition, environment and genetics, ultimately enabling the owners to better care for their pets. i3 recently sat down with Skaya to learn about Basepaws.

How did the idea of  Basepaws come about?

I’ve been working at startups since I graduated college, and this is actually the fourth company that I founded. When we created Basepaws in 2016, everyone seemed to be doing at-home DNA tests, but the same type of testing in the animal space lagged behind. I loved the idea of focusing in on genetics and pet health because people love animals and I felt like they’d want to know more about the most important ones to them. We decided to create Basepaws, the first at-home genetic testing tool for cats. By having access to this, owners can learn more about their cats and take better care of them based on their unique genetic makeup.

Anna Skaya of Basepaws

How does the product work?

The Basepaws test kit helps cat owners learn about their cats’ traits, breed characteristics, and ultimately their health and habits with just a swab of DNA collected at home. Once the DNA is collected, owners send the sample to our offices in California, where we compare it to other cat DNA to determine whether specific genes are linked to disease or physical traits. A cat’s DNA contains more than 20,000 genes, which are spelled out in a unique genetic code that is around 2.7 billion letters long. We take this DNA and use sequencing machines to read and record these letters to determine the results. After the owner receives the results, they will also receive lifetime benefits like updates, newsletters and articles about their cat’s DNA, so they can stay up to date on the latest developments.

Could you talk about your experience on Shark Tank?

Going on Shark Tank was amazing, but it took a lot of work. We had to show that Basepaws is a successful business in addition to sharing a story that was engaging and relatable to the viewers. We were definitely nervous prior to the show, but the producers and the Sharks were very nice, which made things easy for us. I also brought my cat, Koko, with me for the segment and as soon as we both walked into the Tank, I knew it was going to be okay. She stole the show!

Could Basepaws potentially improve genetic testing for animals?

There is so much that we can do with genetic testing that would contribute to a healthier and happier life for an animal as well as its owner. For example, a DNA test can make it easier to identify which traits are linked to health conditions like heart disease and obesity. This information can save pet owners the time and cost of trial and error, using veterinary research to shed light on the best foods for their specific breed. Additionally, DNA research has revealed a vast amount of useful, often life-saving information for humans, and we want to facilitate those same breakthroughs for cats. There is so much more that we can understand about animals that we can only do through genetic testing. Our vision is ultimately to help owners better understand what their cats need to be happy and healthy, which in turn will make their owners happy as well.

July/August 2019 Issue Cover

Subscribe to i3 Magazine

i3, the flagship magazine from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)®, focuses on innovation in technology, policy and business as well as the entrepreneurs, industry leaders and startups that grow the consumer technology industry. Subscriptions to i3 are available free to qualified participants in the consumer electronics industry.