Manuela Sánchez is the founder of Laika, one of the most popular sites for getting products and services for pets.
The Woman Post | Carolina Rodríguez Monclou
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The Colombian startup has successfully started its operations in Mexico City. "At the beginning, we were afraid of facing a new market since the habits of Colombians and Mexicans are pretty different, but everything is working out, is the city that has grown faster".
The idea of Laika was born three years ago when Manuela used to go to several places (seven in total) to supply all her dog needs: veterinary, pet pharmacy, dog walker, food, etc. "I thought it would be great getting all of those things in only one place and with more than the only two brands offered in the supermarket."
Manuela always had a great vision for her startup's future since with her team; they chose an international name for their brand. Their inspiration was Laika, the Russian dog that was sent to space on November 3th of 1957.
Y-Combinator chose the Colombian startup, the most important accelerator of the world in Silicon Valley, to raise their capital with USD 5 million. Between the investors are Justin Mateen, the co-founder of the famous dating app, Tinder, and Soma Capital. "It's a great honor because only the 1% pass, 33.000 companies are postulated, but only 300 are accepted, and we are one of them".
Laika's CEO has won recognition for her excellent job, taking with her the price of Women Who Impact 2020 given by Endeavor Colombia. "This achievement makes me very proud since female entrepreneurship is very limited and not because of the lack of women leaders but because of the mental barriers that we have" claims Manuela.
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The Colombian leader expresses her wish for inspiring other women to trust their ideas and use their leadership. She takes advantage of every opportunity. As proof of it, Laika implemented between its service a free veterinarian call center. "Once my dog ate chocolate, and I knew it was toxic, but I didn't know how bad was it. I didn't have anyone to call at that time. That's how the call line idea for questions related to pets was born" recalls.
Today, Laika operates in Bogotá, Medellín, and Chía inside Colombia and is looking to keep opening its operations in more cities of Mexico and other countries as well. "For the next year, we want to operate in a new market. We are considering Chile, Peru, or Argentine".
For the CEO, women have an essential role within her company, but her business requires a more significant number of men due to the type of work they do. However, Manuela affirms that the group of women who work in Laika are leaders who help to empower other women.
"Women make a warmer environment and encourage other females to give their opinions and talk without fear. However, men's presence is important too because they have a different view, and that's essential for product development," says the CEO.
In Laika, the workers practice yoga and have an open-minded space in which they also employee gays, trans, and foreigners. Finally, Manuela advises “all of the women can be empowered, we just need to trust ourselves”.