LOS ANGELES — Leap Venture Studio, a pet care-specific accelerator, is accepting applications for its latest pitch competition in partnership with the Black Pet Business Network (BPBN). Competition finalists will present at the SuperZoo Pitch Competition in Las Vegas for the chance to win a $10,000 grand prize.

Though minority households led the US pet population boom, according to data shared by Leap Venture, there remains a lack of minorities represented in the pet care and nutrition industries. To help close this gap, the accelerator has partnered with the BPBN to support minority business owners in the pet industry.

Since its founding in 2018, Leap Venture has emphasized the importance of minorities in the pet care industry by supporting and funding startup founders from underrepresented communities. According to Leap Venture, 70% of its portfolio companies have a founder who identifies as a woman or person of color.

Leap Venture Studio partners with Black Pet Business Network Source: Leap Venture Studio

“At Leap Venture Studio we believe passionately that pet care should be accessible to all,” said Rachel Sheppard, director of ventures at Mars Petcare, one of the founders of the accelerator. “This means that we have to do our part to ensure that pet care professionals are as diverse and inclusive as the pet parent communities we serve. We’re excited to be partnering with the BPBN and can’t wait to see the innovation coming out of the Leap pitch competition at SuperZoo this summer.”

Created in 2021 by Lashonda Geffrard, co-owner of pet grooming salon The Paw Shop, the BPBN strives to support and foster a community for Black Americans in the pet care and nutrition industry. The network has helped Black founders find opportunities to support their businesses, including grants, scholarships, meetups, and various resources.

“It's our mission to push past the conversations of diversity, equity and inclusion in the pet industry,” Geffrard said. “We're truly beyond excited to partner with Leap Ventures. BPBN is committed to advocating and creating new opportunities for people of color in the pet space. Together we can achieve more.”

People of color who are founders of North American pet care startups, including those in pet nutrition, are encouraged to apply to the Leap pitch competition by May 31. Finalists will be notified on June 20 and invited to present at SuperZoo from August 16 to 18.

Apply to the Leap Pitch competition.

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