LOS ANGELES — Mars Petcare, Michelson Found Animals Foundation and R/GA Ventures have announced six companies to participate in the Leap Venture Studio, a startup program for innovative pet companies, three of which are pet food and treat companies. Each company will work with professional consultants, strategists, technologists and designers to fine tune their products, marketing initiatives and business strategies.

Berkeley, California-based Jiminy’s produces dog treats with an alternative protein source: crickets. The sustainable alternative offers more than 10 grams of protein per bag of treats and emits far less greenhouse gas than protein sourced from chickens or cows.

Shameless Pets is based in Chicago and formulates dog treats using upcycled ingredients, working with farmers and other food processors to use spent, nutrient-rich ingredients that would otherwise be wasted. The company’s platform is to create a sustainable process while providing key nutritional benefits through its dog treats.

New York-based Smalls is a human-grade cat food manufacturer using responsibly sourced meats and vegetables in its formulas. Cat owners can create profiles for their pets based on protein preference, level of activity and other attributes. Each recipe is natural, grain-free and free from artificial flavors.

This is the second annual Leap Ventures program offered through Mars, Michelson Found Animals and R/GA. The program focuses on young and growing companies in diverse segments of the pet industry by providing them a business network, industry knowledge and creative capital.

The other three participating companies include Barkibu, a Spanish company using Artificial Intelligence to prevent pet sickness remotely and predict consumer behavior; PetReleaf, a Colorado-based pet health company formulating hemp-based supplements; and SniffSpot, a Seattle company that operates an app that dog owners can use to locate dog parks, off-leash areas and other controlled environments for their pets to play or train.

Last year, Wild Earth and Pet Plate were among six companies chosen to participate. Wild Earth CEO Ryan Bethencourt said, “I think this program is really important for the industry because it allows a place where small startups can really engage with some of the bigger stakeholders and get their feedback, and also share some of the insights and progress they’ve been able to make as well.”

The 2019 program will be hosted at the R/GA office in Los Angeles, California. It will begin immediately and end May 21, 2019, with an event where each participating startup will present its offerings to leaders, partners, investors and consumers.

For more information about the Leap Venture Studio, visit https://www.leapventurestudio.com/.

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