- Rachel Barac
Co-founder & CEO of Spare Leash
Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you came to live in Shanghai?
I am originally from the US. I came to Shanghai 7 years ago for a job opportunity in Public Relations. My mother was working over here with General Motors so it was great timing.
I am a lifelong animal lover and avid rescuer; I work with multiple non-profit organizations worldwide and currently live with four Shanghai rescues.
In 2016, I took the leap and started my first business, Spare Leash.
What need were you looking to fill when you came up with the idea for Spare Leash?
The idea behind Spare Leash is safe pet care. As pet owners ourselves we were determined to create a safe solution for both the pet and the owner.
With Spare Leash, all of our services are in a home, 100% cage free. This allows the pets to be comfortable and the owner to be worry free.
If you are on a vacation and constantly having to worry about your pet, this is not a vacation, this is a nightmare!
We have a team of verified pet sitters who send photo and video updates daily allowing you to have peace of mind, while your pet gets the love and attention they deserve.
Often people hold on to their business ideas and never act upon them because they are afraid to start. What gave you the courage to just get started?
When you're going from a full time, steady, job to becoming an entrepreneur, doubt automatically fills your mind. But you need to push forward and do something. Even if it's baby steps, just take action!
You’ve mentioned that neither of you had started a business before Spare Leash. What were some of the main challenges you faced when getting your business up and running?
Looking back it seemed a lot more intimidating than it really ended up being. Starting anything new, especially in a foreign country, can be an overwhelming experience but you have so many people who are willing to help you along the way, you just need to be willing to ask for help.
Trusting someone with your beloved pet is a scary thought, what’s the process for selecting pet sitters?
All of our Spare Sitters go through an application process, where they give more details about themselves, their experience in China and animal experience of course. Safety is our number one priority. If your form shows you have enough experience, then our Community Managers will reach out and set up a face-to-face interview.
Here is when we can really tell when someone is doing it for the right reasons. Pet sitting is a job and a big responsibility and needs to be taken seriously.
At the moment we only accept around 30% of the people we interview.
How has your business evolved since it first started and what’s next for Spare Leash?
Our business in less than a year went from one phone, two girls and an excel spreadsheet managing 300 bookings per month to a full on Pet Tech company. This is all thanks to our CTO and hard working team.
Next, we are launching our Wechat Mini App and building up the Spare Leash brand in surrounding cities, exciting times to come!
Where do you look for business inspiration and advice?
For advice, I love Simon Sinek; his material was really helpful for me when I was starting out. He taught me the importance of defining my WHY.
I’m also a Tedtalk and podcast junkie. Tim Ferriss (author of The 4-Hour Workweek) has a great one and She did it her way is a great one to get a woman entrepreneur's viewpoint on things.
For inspiration, I find my Instagram these days is less filled with bloggers on the beach and more filled with women CEO’s that I aspire to be, such as Sara Blakely @sarablakely, Audrey Gelman @audreygelman, Jessica Alba @jessicaalba and Arianna Huffington @ariannahuff to name a few.
That, and animal photos, but it's all about balance…right?
If you would like to find out more about Spare Leash you can find them at: