LOS ANGELES — Leap Venture Studio has opened applications for the next cohort of its pet care startup accelerator program. The hybrid, 12-week program will begin March 6 and end with a Demo Day on June 9. In-person sessions will be held in Austin, Texas, and Nashville, Tenn., and other portions of the program will be held virtually.

Up to seven early-stage companies will be selected to participate. Applicants must meet several criteria to be eligible for the program, including a unique business plan, a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, and an underlying mission to “elevate the lives of pets and their people,” Leap Venture Studio stated. Former cohorts have featured companies working to advance sustainability, improve senior pet care, digitize pet services and veterinary care, enhance healthcare for felines, develop premium nutrition, and address pet homelessness.

“As a pet care industry, we have the wonderful opportunity to make pet parenting more accessible and joyful for all; to achieve this we are looking for mission-driven founders all around the world with diverse, effective and sustainable solutions to make a better world for pets,” said Rachel Sheppard, director of ventures at Mars Petcare.

Through the accelerator program, selected startups will receive customized support from industry professionals, strategists, technologists, designers and consultants. All participating founders will receive $200,000 in funding, as well as mentorship and support to plan for future fundraising needs and efforts. The 12-week program will wrap up with a Demo Day, through which founders will present pitches to top investors provided.

According to Leap Venture Studio, 70% of startup founders who have participated in past cohorts have been women or people from underrepresented minority groups. Citing its own commitment to diversity and inclusion, Leap Venture Studio is opening up its upcoming cohort in 2023 to global entrants.

This next cohort will follow what Leap Venture Studio described as a successful European cohort, which began Sept. 26 and will end Dec. 15. Three pet nutrition startups participated in the European cohort: Marleybones, based in London; People who kaer, based in Hamburg, Germany; and Petty Well, based in Paris.

Leap Venture Studio & Academy was founded in 2018 through a partnership between Mars Petcare and Michelson Found Animals, with services provided through R/GA Ventures. Since its launch, 40 companies have participated in Leap Venture Studio’s accelerator programs, raising a total of $170 million in follow-on capital to date.

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