Learn About the 9 Incredible Startups from the Leap Venture Academy Fellowship in Europe
Since its inception in 2018, Leap has worked to make the world a smarter place for pets and their people. Through our highly customized accelerator and pre-accelerator programs, we have worked with some of the brightest upcoming pet care startups throughout the world.
Like the rest of the world during the COVID-19 lockdown, the pet care market in Europe grew tremendously. The Leap Venture Academy Fellowship for this year focused on this booming European pet care ecosystem through our program for founders who identify as female and/or as a person of color. The event was powered by Royal Canin, which is based in Aimargues, France. Nine pet care startups from five different countries in Europe joined us for four days of mentorship, community-building, and startup development in the South of France.
The Fellowship was hosted at the Business and Innovation Centre (BIC) in Montpellier, a city known for being an entrepreneurial hub. “Five years ago, when we started the Leap Venture Studio & Academy in the US, women and people of color were hugely underfunded in the pet care industry; we are doing everything we can to change that, and will continue to do so across the world,” said Brett Yates, CEO of Michelson Found Animals. Supporting diversity in the pet care space is a top priority for the Leap partners — Mars Petcare and Michelson Found Animals. Natalia Ball, Global VP, Pet Specialty and Retailing Omnichannel at Royal Canin spoke with the startup leaders and explained how every pet-parenting challenge is unique and attributed to multiple factors, such as pet personality, region, and owner demographics. She said, “to solve the diverse pet parenting pain points, we also have to be diverse”.
The nine startups that were part of the Fellowship included:
1. AnimEd Solutions (Belgium) — passionate veterinarians providing pet owners with high quality, educational content for better collaboration with veterinarians.
2. Feniska UG (Germany) — an app that tracks pet health.
3. HiPets (Poland) — an app that makes connecting with vets, groomers and behaviorists, easier.
4. Moggie (UK) — a smart device that tracks cat healthcare and delivers updates to your phone.
5. Paaw (France) — a simple and responsible way to adopt pets.
6. people who kaer (Germany) — feed supplements and treats for joints, digestion and immunity of pets.
7. Phi Solutions (France) — a software suite to make pet business operations easy.
8. Tuft App (UK) — an app to find, book and review groomers.
9. YapYap (UK) — a platform connecting dogs and their parents to a like-minded community and other opportunities.
These nine incredible companies received mentorship and advice from our robust network of industry leaders and partners. During a session delivered by the then President of Royal Canin, and current President of Mars Petcare, Loïc Moutault, founders were encouraged to discover effective, science-backed solutions to reduce the communication hurdles between pets and their parents, and to tailor appropriate solutions for their overall well being.
Panels during the Fellowship included marketing & branding strategies, business development, and pet-parenting pain points, among others. The highlight of the Fellowship, undoubtedly, was the tour of the Royal Canin campus, where the Fellowship companies got an insider scoop on the production process of one of the most popular pet food brands in the world. Rigorous quality checks, constant recipe trials, and data-driven improvements are some of the key ingredients of this brand’s success.
The Fellowship culminated with a peer-voted award of $20K USD for the startup that was the most supportive towards the community during the program and whose venture would gain most from this monetary support. Peer recognition is a great way to boost morale and what followed was incredible. This year, the founders chose not one, but two founders worthy of the award. Chloé Fabiani, Founder & CEO of Paaw, and Keefy Yap, Founder of YapYap, were the winners and each received $15K USD! Leap organizers then announced $5K USD for each of the remaining seven founders.
The Leap Venture Academy Fellowship for Underrepresented Founders was not bereft of its share of fun and bonding. Amid the fantastic learning and growth opportunities, founders also networked, made friends, and immersed themselves into a community that will stick together beyond this program.
Watch out for the next edition of our annual accelerator program: Leap Venture Studio Cohort 6 (Applications closed).