Leap Venture Academy is now accepting applications for its second annual Bootcamp, a weeklong program designed to support the growth of underrepresented, early-stage start-ups in the pet industry. The 2020 Bootcamp will be hosted virtually due to COVID-19 implications.

Last year, Leap’s Bootcamp highlighted a group of women-owned pet industry companies. This year’s program will support start-ups whose founders identify as female and/or a person of color. According to Leap, 2.8% of investment capital is contributed to female-founded companies and just 1% goes to African American entrepreneurs.

“Kinship is fully aware of the immense impact diversity can have on an industry – as we work towards building an inclusive coalition focused on shaping the future of pet care, we have an obligation to champion underrepresented groups to properly reflect the makeup of pet owners across the country,” said Asad Butt, director of ventures and partnerships for Kinship, another subsidiary of Mars Petcare and partner of Leap Venture Studios. “…We are committed to providing new opportunities that drive proper representation that will ultimately enrich the pet care industry with creativity and unique perspectives.”

The program will be held live online from Sept. 21 to 25. Leap will select 10 to 15 early-stage companies to participate.

Overall, the goal of Leap Venture Academy’s annual Bootcamp is to connect young pet industry companies in a collaborative space, providing educational tools on fundraising, marketing and business development for growth.

Throughout the week, pet industry start-ups will network and participate in workshops and discussions with industry experts and peers. Each entrepreneur will receive feedback from each other, program instructors, industry experts and investors alike.

Eligible start-ups will have less than $1 million in current funding and offer a product or service catering to the companion animal market. Leap will select participating companies based on uniqueness, scalability, market impact and team background. The company said it will also consider start-ups’ commitments to diversity.

Participating start-ups can also qualify to receive a grant from Leap Venture Studios.

Applications are due July 12. Find more details about the Bootcamp and other summer sessions hosted by Leap Venture Academy in this blog post.

Leap Venture Academy will also host a virtual pitch competition Aug. 13 as part of its Leap Pet Project. Young pet industry entrepreneurs can pitch their pet product or service to industry experts for a chance to win $25,000 in funding. From the initial pitch competition, 10 companies will be selected for a semi-final round, and five companies will move on to the final round.

Additionally, Leap Venture Academy will host a virtual, one-day Cat Summit on Oct. 29. The program will offer workshops, discussions and one-on-one meetings with pet industry experts and investors to pet start-ups focused on products and services for cats.

Read more about pet food and treat industry events.