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March 8, 2021

4 min read

Great Leaps: Women Lead 6 out of 8 Startups in a Year of Great Change

As its name suggests, Leap Venture Studio has always been a driving force behind positive change in the pet care industry. And Leap’s 2021 Cohort 4 Startups are a great reflection of the change that is happening, and the progress we’re collectively making.

There is no denying that our industry has radically changed over the past 12 months. From business models, to supply chains, to our purpose and beliefs, many of us had to completely rethink and reimagine what pet care could be to the world. Couple that with the sharp increase of new pet parents born out of a pandemic (71% of them who said they could not have survived 2020 without their pet), and now our challenge is not just to reimagine solutions but deliver them at a speed and scale unheard of in our industry.

This is no easy feat. To better serve the modern pet parent we must blow open the doors of pet care and usher in a broad range of perspectives, people, and experiences. And then, we must keep those doors wide open. We are proud to say that Leap, in partnership with Kinship, R/GA Ventures, and Michelson Found Animals Foundation, is doing just that.

Leap’s Cohort 4 is our most diverse cohort in racial background, geography, and industry experience to date. And we are proud to say that six out of the eight selected are led or co-led by visionary female founders. Each embodies the optimism, curiosity, and open spirit it takes to truly break ground in pet care. In honor of International Women’s Day, Kinship wanted to make space for some of them to share advice, inspiration, or insight that has helped propel their journey.

“A mentor once cautioned me to be mindful of the behaviors that have been rewarded throughout a corporate career — like extreme attention to detail or always raising your hand for extra projects — and realize those reinforced habits may not make sense in entrepreneurship. I’ve found it helpful (and humbling) to reflect on what type of leader my business needs today and identify the new muscles I need to develop to be successful.”

Caroline Buck, Co-Founder and CMO of Petaluma

“Believe in yourself and have a strong mission behind what you are doing. Being an entrepreneur is hard, you are met with challenges every day and you will be pushed completely out of your comfort zone. During these times you need to tap into your inner belief, reconnect with your mission and keep turning up day after day pushing yourself to learn and grow.”

Judy Nadel, Co-Founder of THE PACK

“I never saw myself from a gender perspective. Nor did I consider myself different for being a woman. Not even thinking about that “difference” made all the difference to me.”

Maria Nougues, Co-Founder and COO of Oliver Pets

“Dream big. Have a clear vision. Be persistent and consistent. All things are possible and remember what’s for you is for you.”

Melissa Mitchner, CEO and Founder of the Bark Shoppe

“Women are often raised to be perfectionists, and we tend to hold ourselves back from putting ourselves on stage until we’re 100% certain that everyone will say yes and there’s absolutely no room for looking like an idiot…It’s okay to be not perfect. It’s okay to not have all the answers in the beginning.”

Nayoung Susie Kim & Dr. Kate Mezan, Co-Founders of Pebble

“A quote that motivates me everyday is the following from Michelle Obama: ‘Success is not about how much money you make, it is about the difference you make in people’s lives.’”

Elena Dede, Co-founder & CEO of Woof Together

In addition to providing mentorship from the three Leap Partners, we will invest up to $200k in each startup, and give them access to the best minds in the industry to help them reach their full potential faster. Leap’s 19 alumni have gone on to raise over $70MM, and two have made exits in the last four months. And we believe that our fourth Leap Venture Studio Cohort is primed to blaze entirely new paths forward.

Please join us in congratulating Leap Venture Studio’s fourth cohort:

  • Oliver Pets (Mexico City, Mexico & Buenos Aires, Argentina): Oliver Pets is the all-in-one service platform that makes pet parenting more simple and fun.
  • Pebble Naturals (Moss Beach, CA): Pebble helps shelters save money on drugs by connecting them directly to manufacturers.
  • Petaluma, Inc. (Oakland, CA): Petaluma is a public benefit corporation that formulates sustainable dog nutrition with environmentally-friendly and animal-free ingredients.
  • petNmind Naturals (Coconut Creek, FL): petNmind’s mission is to enhance the bond between pets and their humans by focusing on quality products, insightful education, simple pet-washing services, and local product delivery, which creates peace of mind for pet parents and a healthy lifestyle for pets.
  • The Bark Shoppe (New York, NY): The Bark Shoppe is a premier pet care company specializing in pet grooming. We aim to standardize and certify pet groomers with our flagship grooming school and online training platform.
  • THE PACK. (London, UK): THE PACK are on a mission to cook up delicious, drool-inducing plant-based meals for every dog bowl in the world. A kind that’s better for dogs, and their planet too.
  • Toletta Cats Inc. (Fujisawa, Japan): Toletta® is a “smart” cat litter box capable of detecting early symptoms of common feline diseases without stressing the cat. Our product is developed, designed and manufactured in Japan.
  • Woof Together (Athens, Greece): Woof Together is an innovative startup setting standards in pet friendly hospitality by assessing, certifying, and providing training for pet-friendly hospitality businesses, and acting as a supplier for pet amenities.
BY Isabel Havens

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