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June 24, 2020

4 min read

Leap Venture Academy Summer Series Announced! 3 Events for Pet Care Startup Founders

In the past month, we’ve all been tasked with taking a long, hard look at our respective companies and industries, and seeing if they are reflective of what we stand for.

It is imperative that we address the lack of diversity in the pet industry at large — in our founders, our leaders, our partnerships, our investments, and our employees.

The team at Leap is ready to translate rhetoric into action, and to help make the structural changes that need to take place in the industry.

Next week, we will be hosting our first Diversity in Pet Care Roundtable on Wednesday, July 1st, at 9am PT / 12pm ET. The call will be hosted by Carla Isabel Carstens, Director of Communications & Events at Kinship, Renaldo Webb, Founder of Pet Plate, & Zubin Bhettay, Co-Founder & CEO of Fuzzy Pet Health.

Today, we are also announcing our Leap Venture Academy Summer Series! We will be hosting 3 events this summer focused on early-stage pet care startups.

1. Leap Pet Project Virtual Pitch Competition (August 13th)

Since most major pet care conferences are not happening in person this year, the Leap Venture Academy is bringing the pitch competition to you — virtually! Leap Pet Project is Leap Venture Academy’s startup pitch competition series, bringing the most promising startups to the (virtual) stage for a live contest.

  • This is an opportunity to pitch your pet care product or service before industry experts for the chance to win $25k in prize money.
  • We will select 10 companies for our semifinal live pitch and 5 startups will move onto the final round.
  • Open to any early stage startup or individual innovating in the pet care market. Startups from the idea stage to early revenue stage are encouraged to apply. Both for-profit and nonprofit startups are allowed to apply. Startups must be less than 2 years old.

2. Leap Venture Academy Bootcamp for Female and/or POC CEOs (September 21st — 25th)

Leap Venture Academy Bootcamp is a week-long startup program for underrepresented pet care entrepreneurs working on an early stage idea or company. The immersive experience will include a variety of programming, ranging from classes, workshops, and fireside chats, all geared towards getting early stage pet care startups to the next stage in their business. Due to COVID-19, this year’s bootcamp will be held virtually.

After reviewing the current investment climate, and the powerful platform Leap has provided founders in the past, it is both our honor and obligation to elevate diverse voices and ideas in the pet care industry. Our second Bootcamp will focus on amplifying the ideas of startup CEOs and Founders who identify as female and/or as a person of color.

Currently, only 2.8% of capital is invested in all-female founding teams, and just 1% of VC-backed founders are black. This must change, especially in an innovative and socially-minded industry like pet care, that puts animals and their people first.

The goal of the Bootcamp is to help entrepreneurs in the pet care space build the necessary skills and connections needed to successfully bring their product to market, and find early market validation and traction. By the end of the week, each entrepreneur will have reviewed and received feedback on their business plan from peers, instructors, seasoned pet care professionals, and investors.

  • Any pet care startup with a CEO or founder that identifies as female and/or as a person of color is eligible to apply. The startup must also have less than $500,000 in total investment or revenue.

3. Leap Venture Academy Cat Summit (October 29th)

It’s time for cats to get the attention they deserve! The Leap Venture Academy is hosting a 1-Day Cat Startup Summit to focus on the unique opportunities for growth and investment for cat-specific brands and services. This 1-day virtual event will include workshops, small group discussions, and opportunities for 1:1 office hours. Let’s celebrate National Cat Day by supporting the startups our cats need and love.

  • Any startup focused solely on cats or cats & dogs is eligible to apply.


The application for the 3 events opens on June 24th and will close at midnight on July 12th. We are aiming to make selection announcements by the end of July. Access the application here.

Please Note:

  • Filling out the application does not guarantee you a spot in any of the events. A selection committee will invite a select group of startups to participate in each.
  • If selected, no more than 2 people from your company may attend.
  • These events are not funding opportunities.

If you have any questions about the events or the application, please email We are also hosting Leap Office Hours on Tuesday, June 30th at 9am PT / 12pm ET — this is a great time to ask Asad Butt & Isabel Havens questions directly.

The Leap Venture Studio and Academy is a partnership between Michelson Found Animals and Kinship, a division of Mars Petcare. Together, the two companies represent the most innovative thinkers in the pet care industry. MFA & Kinship recognize the immense value of the pet care sector and want to foster innovation and growth from the bottom-up.

BY Isabel Havens

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