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March 28, 2022

4 min read

Applications Open for Leap Venture Academy Fellowship for Underrepresented Pet Care Startup Founders: Europe 2022

The Leap Venture Academy Fellowship for Female and/or POC (Person of Color) Pet Care Startup Founders is an in-person, week-long startup program for underrepresented pet care entrepreneurs in Europe working on an early-stage idea or company. The immersive program will be co-hosted by Michelson Found Animals & Mars Petcare and powered by Royal Canin from June 13–17, 2022 in Montpellier, France. The Fellowship includes classes, workshops, and fireside chats all geared towards getting 10 pet care startups to the next stage.

The goal of the Fellowship is to help underrepresented entrepreneurs in the pet care space build the skills and connections they need to bring their product to market and find early market validation and traction. At the end of the week, each entrepreneur will have received feedback and vetted much of their business plan from peers, instructors, seasoned pet care professionals, and investors.

Topics covered include: developing your value proposition, business model design and validation, marketing and sales, production and technology planning, financing your startup, and building your team.

The Fellowship will culminate with one peer-selected award of $20,000 USD for the founder who was the most supportive and collaborative throughout the program. Applications are due by Sunday, April 10th by midnight PT. If you have questions about the application process or your eligibility, please contact us at leapventurestudio@gmail.comApply Here!

FAQ for Founders

What do you mean by underrepresented?

Any pet care startup with a CEO or co-founder that identifies as female and/or as a person of color is eligible to apply from Europe. We are utilizing the definition of “person of color” from the EU-based organization, Founderland. You can find the definition on their FAQ page here:

If my company is based outside of Europe, but we want to launch in that market, are we eligible to apply?

Yes, if your company is focused on the European market and you are able to travel to France for the in-person program, you are eligible to apply.

How are you making decisions on who can attend?

Eligible companies must complete this short online application which is reviewed by a panel of judges from Michelson Found Animals, Mars Petcare, and Royal Canin. Filling out the application does not guarantee you a spot in the Fellowship. A selection committee will invite a select group of startups to participate.

When will I know if I’ve been accepted?

We are aiming to make selection announcements by the end of April 2022.

Is there a fee?

The Fellowship is free to attend, however participants will need to pay for their own travel and accommodations.

What is the format of the week?

Each day will include a mix of workshops, speakers, and mentor meetings. Most afternoons will include down time where you can work on issues related to your startup or connect with fellow founders.

What is the time commitment? Do I have to attend everything?

Startups are required to attend each session as one of the biggest value adds is interacting and connecting with others in the Fellowship.

What type of company is the Fellowship right for?

This program is focused on pet care startups or ideas that are often overlooked and underinvested in the startup community. We are focused on underrepresented founders that will have a positive impact on the pet care market and will create a smarter world for pets. Startups that have at least an MVP or Beta product will get the most out of the Fellowship. First time entrepreneurs or founders new to the pet care market will also find tremendous value in the Fellowship as well. Finally, startups that expect to raise capital or scale quickly will find the Fellowship valuable.

How many people from my team can attend?

Many teams choose to have the CEO or co-founder participate only. In certain cases, it makes sense for the company to have two co-founding members attend.

Is the program better suited for ventures in certain pet care sectors?

Not necessarily. When we evaluate companies we are more interested in their potential impact, their ability to deliver on their mission and business model, and the potential benefit of the Fellowship for the company.

Do we sign non-disclosure/non-compete agreements?

We do not sign non-disclosure or non-compete agreements with startups attending the Fellowship.

Does getting into the Fellowship mean I’ll get into the Leap Venture Studio accelerator program?

While many of our Fellowship alumni have gone on to join the Leap Venture Studio program, it is by no means a guarantee.

If I don’t attend the Fellowship program, will I not be accepted into the Leap Venture Studio?

No. We have had several companies join our Leap Venture Studio program without joining the Fellowship. That being said, if the Fellowship is a good fit for you, it is an opportunity for the Leap team to get to know your company better so that we can better understand how to support you.

Do we have to give up equity to attend?

No. No equity is required.

Will there be funding?

We give out one $20,000 USD award to a peer-selected company at the end of the Fellowship. However, no strategic investments are made.

Applications are due by Sunday, April 10th by midnight PT. If you have questions about the application process or your eligibility, please contact us at

BY Isabel Havens

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