LOS ANGELES — Mars Petcare announced Feb. 11 the seven pet industry startups chosen for its 2020 Leap Venture Studio (Leap) program, sponsored by Kinship, Michelson Found Animals Foundation and R/GA Ventures. The young companies selected represent Leap’s third cohort and hail from across the US, Germany and the United Kingdom.

The Leap program selects startups “primed to disrupt the pet care industry,” varying from sustainable innovators to modern veterinary solutions and new takes on pet nutrition.

The participating startups are:

  1. Bark Buildings partners with residential apartment buildings to build dog-friendly policies and provide amenities to multi-family communities designed to increase socialization among apartment pups. It is based in Jersey City, New Jersey.
  2. Dogdrop is a doggy daycare in Los Angeles offering convenience and flexibility to busy pet owners, without skimping on the quality of care. Safety measures, technology and design are all considered for these locations to maximize dogs’ well-being and experience. 
  3. Dogly is a one-stop shop for canine wellness tips and products, where dog owners can find vetted information and products from choosing a veterinarian or trainer to purchasing accessories, food and treats. The startup is based in New York.
  4. Dogo App, developed out of Berlin, Germany, is a mobile app dedicated to dog training. The app features advice from professional dog trainers and serves as a forum for owners to ask questions and receive feedback.
  5. Native Pet, based in St. Louis, is creating limited ingredient pet supplements and chew products for dogs. The all-natural options include organic chicken bone broth, organic air-dried pumpkin, and a variety of Yak chews.
  6. Pet Hospice aims to make end-of-life situations easier for pets and their owners. Its services include hospice care provided by a team of care professionals, quality of life assessments, in-home euthanasia, pain management treatments, telehealth services, counseling and free resources for education and guidance.
  7. Project Blu is taking a sustainable approach to pet accessories. Based in Cardiff, Wales, the startup takes ocean-bound plastic waste and turns it into toys, leashes and pet bedding.

These companies will have access to strategists, technologists, designers and consultants — all curated by R/GA — as well as mentorship from leaders at Kinship and Michelson Found Animals.

The program will kick off in Los Angeles and end with a Demo Day in New York City during Kinship’s inaugural conference, Coalition by Kinship, May 6 and 7, 2020. At the conference, each startup will have the opportunity to pitch their brand to leaders, investors and consumers in the pet industry.

Leap Venture Studio was launched in 2018 in reaction to the increasing humanization of pets and the pet industry, which has led to record spending and mass premiumization, the company says.

Since its founding, all 12 companies that have participated in Leap’s program have continued to compete in the pet market and, altogether, have raised more than $50 million in venture capital funding.

Leap’s 2019 cohort included Shameless Pets, Smalls and Jiminy’s, all innovators in the pet nutrition space. The other three companies included Barkibu, PetReleaf — a CBD pet product brand — and SniffSpot.

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