José Mª Vilaboy has become a reference in a market as unique and unknown as the professional rodent breeding. His company Xaraleira, based in As Pontes (A Coruña), has the capacity to breed more than 15,000 mice per month “in optimal conditions, avoiding overcrowding and taking maximum care of their nutrition and hygiene,” emphasizes Vilaboy himself.
Although he started this activity as an amateur in 2003, “I only started working professionally about three years ago, when I made the decision to engineer the entire production process to reduce costs: water automation, basket cleaning, investment in more bearings , diversification into new lines of business, product delivery service by MRW Pets etc.”
Vilaboy started raising rodents as live food for zoos and bird sanctuaries. And soon he expanded it to include frozen food, also for consumption by predators. Then he developed another line of business: selling rodents (hamsters, chinchillas, guinea pigs, etc.) as pets for pet shops. Now he has put all his energy into a fourth business area, which he will start next year and which he has already successfully tested: “I’m very excited. The idea came from a question my 12 year old son asked me. Why are some mice one color and others another? A light bulb went on. I have devoted two years to its development and market research. Is a Kit containing a few mice and everything needed to keep them alive for schools. It is not an experiment but an experience for students to learn Mendel’s laws of transmission of genetic inheritance through these pairs of rodents. The kit comes with a comic that I made with an artist and a screenwriter that explains Mendel’s Laws in a very entertaining way. I tried it in several centers and the response was very good and I presented it at the innovation fair in Seville with a great response.”
Vilaboy believes that the The market was there, “waiting for someone serious and professional to arrive. In Spain we have five companies, the only one in Spain is mine. I export my rodents to countries in the Persian Gulf, Central Europe and Portugal through the logistics infrastructure of one of these multinationals. 20% of the production goes to these markets and next year I will double the production.” He admits that he has many ideas in his head, but he doesn’t have the time or money to develop them all. “I’ve been thinking about producing insects for garbage disposal, but I need money for that. Everything I earn is reinvested in the company. My fear with investment partners is that we think differently. If someone came along willing to reinvest their profits back into the company, they wouldn’t have a problem.”
Vilaboy, who invested around €60,000, recalls going to the bank to ask €36,000 to build a warehouse and buy the land: “I had a 40% European subsidy and the bank didn’t give it to me . My mother had to support me.” Her rodents are priced between 50 and 200 cents.