LOS ANGELES and TORONTO — Six pet care startups have been selected for the fifth cohort of Leap Venture Studio, an accelerator program organized by Mars Petcare and Michelson Found Animals. Two of these chosen startups — Bright Planet Pet and Dog Child — are aiming to redefine pet nutrition.
“In our fifth year of programs centered around innovation in pet care, we are more excited than ever about the immense growth in this industry and the impact on animal welfare, health and sustainability,” said Brett Yates, chief executive officer of Michelson Found Animals.
According to Leap Venture Studio, hundreds of early-stage pet care companies representing more than 20 countries sent in their applications for this year’s cohort, of which just the following six were chosen. Each company has received an investment of up to $200,000 for being chosen to participate in this year’s cohort.
Bright Planet Pet, a women-owned company based in Minneapolis, is keeping sustainability top-of-mind with it 100% plant-based, vegan dog treats. Its current portfolio consists of three formulas — Better Burg’r, Better Brat and Better BBQ Chick’n — all of which are formulated with chickpea flour, brown rice, dehydrated sweet potato and dried brewer’s yeast as the first few ingredients. All formulations are free-from corn, soy, wheat or peas.
According to the company, ingredients and processes used for its treats produce 90% less carbon emissions and use 68% less water than similar meat-based treats. The company aims to incorporate fully recyclable packaging materials into its portfolio, which consumers can drop off at pet stores to be recycled. Additionally, each bag of treats will fund a donation to The Eden Reforestation Projects, a nonprofit planting trees in Haiti, Indonesia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nepal, Central America and Brazil to fight climate change and create jobs in impoverished communities.
Bright Planet Pet was also selected to participate in the 2022 Pet Care Innovation Prize by Purina’s 9 Square Ventures group and private equity firm Active Capital.
Dog Child, based in Toronto, Canada, was founded in 2021 as “The Animals Kitchen” before adopting its new name ahead of an official launch in spring of 2022. The startup has been developing a sustainable portfolio of complete-and-balanced meal blends to offer nutritional products that pet owners can cook themselves at home.
“We are proud to be selected by Leap Venture Studio and humbled to see Dog Child recognized among the most innovative and promising pet care brands of the future,” said Nicole Marchand, co-founder and chief executive officer at Dog Child. “From our very beginnings, our goal has been to develop a concept that would empower pet parents and make it easy for them to make the best food choices for their dog’s health and happiness. As we are now gearing up for our launch in the coming months, this investment will enable Dog Child to expand its product line and build out our online community.”
The other pet care startups selected for the fifth cohort of Leap Venture Studio include Denver-based Hound which is building a platform to enhance hiring process for veterinary professionals and employees. The platform is designed to help prospective vet employees find positions, as well as help vet clinics find potential employees.
Chicago-based Mella Pet Care has developed the first underarm pet thermometers for use in veterinary clinics and at home. The technological pet care solution is designed to provide a non-invasive, “fear free” option for keeping pets health and wellness in check.
PetHub, based in Wenatchee, Wash., is a smart dog tag startup. Pet owners can set up custom pet profiles through a centralized data platform, which can help in the event that a pet escapes from home.
Vetsie, a Calgary, Canada-based virtual care platform for veterinary clinics, aims to streamline communication between veterinary professionals and pet owners. The platform also offers veterinary triage and telemedicine services.
These six startups will gain access to a team of strategists, technologists, designers and consultants from R/GA Ventures, as well as mentorship from Mars Petcare and Michelson Found Animals teams. At the end of the 12-week program, each startup will have the opportunity to pitch their business to investors, industry leaders and other members of the startup community at a virtual Demo Day event on April 28.
“We are thrilled to be working with founders who are tackling key issues for pet parents and vets alike, including improved access to veterinary care and pet wellness, support for veterinarians, sustainable food options including vegan treats and at-home cooking, and making sure pets are happy and safe at every point of their life,” said Rachel Sheppard, director of ventures at Mars Petcare.
To-date, Leap Venture Studio has partnered with 27 early-stage pet care companies. In 2021, the accelerator program resulted in more than $100 million in follow-on capital and $100,000 in award funds to innovative pet care startups.
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