Miami — In 2017, PetSmart, an American pet supplies company, acquired Chewy.com, a pet supplies e-commerce company for $3.35 billion – it was dubbed the biggest e-commerce acquisition in history.
Now, Laika, a Colombia-founded “pet commerce” company is looking to follow in Chewy’s footsteps. The company is named after Laika, a Russian space dog who became one of the first animals in space, and the first animal to orbit the Earth.
Today, the Y Combinator-backed company announced the close of a $48M Series B round of funding led by SoftBank with the participation of JAM Fund, Delivery Hero, and FJ Labs, along with some key angel investors including Carlos Garcia, CEO and co-founder of Kavak, Emil Michael, former Uber executive, and Pedro Garay, CEO of Grupo Bursátil Mexicano. To date, the company has raised a total of $65 million.
“Manuela, my sister, was working at Rappi and she realized there was a need to build a one-stop-shop specialized in pets,” said Camilo Sánchez, co-founder and CEO of Laika. “She called me because I’m the entrepreneur of the family,” he added.
Camilo, Manuela, and Tulio Jimenez launched Laika in 2018, and today the company has more than 500 full-time employees and operates in Mexico, Colombia, and Chile. “Everyone is employed, including the delivery people, and that way we can offer better service,” said Sánchez.
The company serves more than 300,000 active users who order pet supplies online and get it delivered within two hours.
“It was important that we sell products not just to the rich people with credit cards, so we offer two-hour delivery and you can pay with cash or card on delivery,” said Sánchez.
The brother and sister duo recognized that there was a gap in the market when it came to pet food and other pet supplies: there was the corner shop which provided convenience but higher prices, and there were pet stores that were often further away, but had good prices. But there wasn’t a company that offered both. And buying big and heavy bags of pet food on a regular basis and transporting them home, has never been an easy experience.
Chewy became known not only for its convenience, but also for its incredible customer service, including hand written cards upon delivery. It seems that Laika is following in their footsteps. “We’re not trying to build only a transactional relationship with the customer,” Sánchez said.
In addition to making money from sales, Laika also profits from a $20 per year membership service similar to that of Amazon Prime. The company said that 70% of its sales come from these members, and the company has experienced 5x year over year growth.
With the money from this round, Laika plans to launch a new product in Q1 of 2022: dog and cat insurance at a price of $10 per month. The company will also use the money from this round to expand to other markets including Argentina, Peru, and Ecuador.