Frequently Asked Questions


What is the Leap Ventures’ mission?

Michelson Found Animals and Kinship, a division of Mars Petcare, are dedicated to supporting the $100B pet care industry through programs that help pet care startups at various stages excel.

Read more about who we are here.

Which Leap program is right for my startup?

Leap Venture Academy events are open to any pet care startup entrepreneur trying to make a better world for pets. The Leap Venture Studio is geared toward startups that are able to scale quickly and/or create huge impact in the pet care market. Generally, if you do not have a Minimum Viable Product the Academy would be a better fit, but this is not a definitive rule.

If you want to learn more about which program is right for you, try attending an upcoming Leap Venture Studio and Academy information session. See calendar of events here.

What sort of networking and marketing opportunities are available to participating companies?


Throughout the program, startups have access to curated networking opportunities, industry events and other marketing opportunities.

Studio leaders organize a variety workshops and meetings with entrepreneurs, angel investors, legal experts, venture capitalists, investment bankers and other relevant industry players.

The Studio Managing Director works with each founder individually to select the mentors that meet their needs and business development goals.


The Leap Venture Academy was created in order to facilitate networking opportunities for early-stage startups in the pet care industry. Startup founders are connected with the pet care startup ecosystem through our  live webinars, bootcamps and Slack channel. The Leap Venture Academy is the easiest way to stay in the  loop and meet like-minded entrepreneurs in pet care.


What is the Leap Venture Studio?

The Leap Venture Studio is the first pet care startup accelerator. The program is geared towards scaling impactful startups in the pet care space. Read more about the Leap Venture Studio here.

How often is the Leap Venture Studio held?

The Leap Venture Studio is held once a year form February to May.

Applications for the 2020 cohort open September 15, 2019. Decisions will be released by the end of the year.

Where are Leap Venture Studio sessions held?

Los Angeles, California.

Is my start up right for the Leap Venture Studio?

Most qualified candidates have developed a Minimum Viable Product. However, companies without an MVP may still apply. The Studio is open to tech-enabled companies at a variety of stages, from pre-seed to seed to Series A, and business models ranging from B2B and B2C.

Which industries is Leap Venture Studio interested in for startups?

We are open to any startup impacting the pet care space. We have a particular fondness for startups focused on nutrition, on-demand services, medicine & supplements, hardware & products, tools & software, and transportation. 

Is it worthwhile to apply if my startup is pre-revenue?

Yes, the Leap Venture Studio has worked with companies of all stages in the past. If you have an MVP and business plan, the Studio will be able to offer important takeaways and opportunities for growth. Additionally, regardless of if you are selected or not, the team will provide targeted feedback for your company.

Are solopreneurs eligible to apply?

Yes! We encourage solo teams to also apply and can offer additional assistance with note taking to ensure that all the learnings are still captured for your startup. It should be noted that teams with multiple members usually get the most out of the Studio experience because of the multitude of offerings.

How do I join the Leap Venture Studio?

Leap Venture Studio cohorts are chosen through our application process. Applications for the Leap Venture Studio are currently open.

Applications for our 2020 cohort will close on October 31, 2019. Companies will receive decisions on in December.

What do you look for in the application?

Each person on the committee looks for something different. Some focus on the deck, others look at or try the product. We ask many questions on our application to ensure each member of the application committee has the most complete picture of your startup when judging. Make sure you answer each question seriously and check your application for spelling and grammatical errors.

Should I spend the same amount of time on questions as the deck? Is it ok if the information overlaps?

The questions and deck are equally important and we expect that some of the information will be the same. The deck visually communicates the story of your startup and reveals to us how you visually represent your product or service. 

How should I answer: “Any additional information about your team?”

This is an optional question that allows your team to creatively share any information that might be relevant to your startup idea or background. Have fun with this question and be creative!

How many applicants typically apply?

Over the last two cohorts, we have received more than 100 applications.

Can international startups apply?

Yes! It is important to be aware that there might be a slower timeline for funds and paperwork. While not required, we recommend participating in the Studio if you plan to sell your product or service in the US at some point in the future. Please note that you must be able to travel to the US to participate in the program and that securing a visa is the sole responsibility of the startup.

Do I need to be in Los Angeles for the duration of the program?

It is important that you are present in LA during the first two weeks and the last two weeks of the program.

You do not need to be in LA for the entire duration of the 12 weeks thereafter, but we highly recommend that you be able to consistently attend Venture Studio sessions in person. You will not receive the same benefit from the program unless you are able to meet with mentors and other entrepreneurs or take advantage of LA-specific resources.

Will the Leap Venture Studio provide accommodations in LA?

The Leap Venture Studio will not provide housing or long-term accommodations, but we can assist with identifying short-term accommodations. Founders must make and pay for their own living arrangements.

What is an estimate of the out-of-pocket expenses for cohort teams?

Out of the 3 months of Studio time, you will need to be physically present in Los Angeles or New York City for 5 weeks. Past cohort teams have stayed in Airbnbs for reasonable prices located close to the Michelson Found Animals office. You do not need to rent a car and the office is located close to LAX. There is no exact estimate, but it is important to factor in lodging, transportation, and food. 

What is R/GA’s role in the Leap Venture Studio?

As part of the Venture Studio, startups will participate in an assessment during which their strategic needs are identified to inform a product/market plan. A customized team of R/GA’s award-winning strategists, technologists, designers and consultants will then collaborate with the company to execute that plan. R/GA provides Studio companies with the same transformative services offered to the agency’s Fortune 50 clients, and prepares them for future milestones including fundraising, pitching and business development.

Does the entire company need to attend the program?

No, but it is important that the founders and key leadership be actively involved in the process. Along the same lines, it is crucial that you as founder are able to step away from daily operations to participate in the program.

What is the weekly time commitment?

Expect to spend 10-20 hours a week on Leap Venture Studio assignments and projects. If you are unable to commit that time at this stage of your development, consider attending Leap Venture Academy events instead.

How do founders choose what to prioritize over their 12 weeks?

Before the Studio begins, there are introductory calls with each startup to determine what their main concerns and goals are. In the two weeks of the program, we continue to deep dive on your startup and your goals and vet your plans with Studio mentors and advisors.

What is the investment from Leap Ventures?

Leap Venture Studio invests up to $200k in each startup. The funding depends on what you have raised in the past or if you are currently raising funds. Either we will join the current round or invest convertible notes for the next round. We will also likely ask for warrant coverage in your next round. 


What is the Leap Venture Academy?

The Leap Venture Academy connects pet care entrepreneurs with the resources they need to create innovative products and expand their pet-related businesses.

The Academy is a series of open, pre-accelerator, community-building activities for early-stage pet care startups and innovators. Events are held year round, in person and online. Activities include pitch competitions, bootcamps, classes, webinars, meetups and hackathons. Our goal is to engage with startups regularly and connect them to educational and networking opportunities, potential mentors, advisers, partners, investors and one another.

How is the Leap Venture Academy different from the Leap Venture Studio?

The Leap Venture Academy is meant for startups who are still in their very early stages. 

Unlike our Studio program, the Leap Venture Academy operates year round and most events are free and open to the public, no application necessary. The Academy does not have any location or time commitment requirements but does not provide the same level of resources or attention as the Leap Venture Studio. Leap Ventures only invests via the Studio; the Academy is not a funding opportunity. 

Will the Leap Venture Academy invest in my startup?

The Leap Venture Academy is not a funding opportunity. 

If you are seeking investment or grants, consider applying to the Leap Venture Studio or an upcoming pitch competition.

Is the Academy right for my startup?

Whether you’re an early stage startup seeking access to pet care resources to expand your business or if you are simply looking to connect with the pet care startup community, Leap Venture Academy is right for you.

How do I join the academy?

The Leap Venture Academy is free to the public, no membership necessary. Check out our upcoming events here and join the ongoing conversation on Slack.

How do I apply for a pitch competition?

Applications for competitions will open approximately 6-8 weeks before the competition. Learn more here.

What is the prize for winning a pitch competition?

Prizes vary but all are equity-free grants.

When is the next pitch competition?

Check out all our upcoming competitions here.


Is my startup eligible for the pitch competitions?

Pet Project competitions are open to any early-stage startup or individual innovating in the pet care market. Startups from idea stage to early revenue stage, for-profit or non-profit are encouraged to apply.

You must attend the event where the competition takes place.


Who are the Leap Partners?

Leap Ventures is a partnership between the Michelson Found Animals Foundation, R/GA and Kinship, a division of Mars Petcare.

You can read more about our partners here.

Who is Michelson Found Animals and what is their role?

Michelson Found Animals is dedicated to ending pet homelessness with social enterprise models that include a national microchip registry and LA-based pet retail and adoption centers. 

Michelson Found Animals is a Leap Ventures partner and provides direct contact with over a million pet owners and hundreds of pet shelters throughout the US. MFA’s contact with consumers and key players in animal welfare provides startups with much needed feedback, leads and referrals.

Who is Kinship and what is their role?

Kinship is the newest division of Mars Petcare and a Leap Ventures partner. Kinship works to support pet care innovators and startups by engaging Mars Petcare partners to support the rapidly growing pet care industry. With growing data and analytics capabilities, a $100M venture fund, industry-leading technology and consumer businesses, Kinship can provide pet care startups with resources like never before.

Mars Petcare is a pet industry leader with over 44 brands in 55 countries in their portfolio. Mars Petcare has unmatched access to scientific, marketing and analytic resources that can take pet care startups to the next level. Mars Petcare created Kinship in order to invest in and accelerate cutting-edge ideas in the Petcare industry.


Will Leap Ventures invest in my startup?

Leap Ventures invests in startups through the Venture Studio program. If your company is accepted to the next cohort, you will receive up to $200k in funding from Leap Ventures. We do not invest in startups outside of our Venture Studio Program.

Can I get funding from Leap Ventures without being part of the Venture Studio?

Yes, you can!

Leap Ventures hosts a series of pitch competitions. Winners receive equity-free grants from the Leap partners.