LAS VEGAS — Five finalists will have the chance to pitch their emerging pet industry brands to a live audience of pet industry professionals at the Leap Venture Studio SuperZoo Pitch Competition, held Friday, Aug. 18 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Emerging Brands Stage. One of the finalists will be selected to win a grand prize of $10,000.

Leap Venture Studio partnered with Black Pet Business Network to host this year’s accelerator program, which features BIPOC founders in the pet care industry. According to Leap Venture Studios, though minority households led the US pet population boom, there remains a lack of minorities represented in the pet care and nutrition industries.

Emerging pet industry brands led by BIPOC founders will compete in the Leap Venture Studio SuperZoo Pitch Competition in August

From left: Rachel Sheppard, ventures director at Mars Petcare; Ben Jacobs, advisor at Mars Petcare; and Lashonda Geffrard, founder of Black Pet Business Network.

| Source: Leap Venture Studio

“Our joint commitment to equity and inclusion is creating a more inclusive place for people of color in the pet industry,” said Lashonda Geffrard, founder of Black Pet Business Network. “Partnering with Leap has been an exciting opportunity.”

Of the five finalists, two will pitch businesses that fall in the companion animal nutrition category. This includes Sharon Tuggle, founder of 5 Element Food Therapy, a supplement line taking a Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine approach to pet health and wellness.

Additionally, Jaime Cooper, co-founder of D.R.E.A.M Pet Food, will pitch his natural pet treat business, which aims to represent hip-hop culture through the treating experiences shared between pet owners and their four-legged companions.

Other BIPOC founders presenting at the Leap Venture Studio SuperZoo Pitch Competition include Jonaie Johnson, founder of Interplay, a crate accessory and mobile app that allows remote interaction between pets and parents; Kayla Oliver, founder of The Girl Who Speaks Dog, a training and boarding service based in Atlanta; and LaShaun Chapman, founder of Vybe House Industries, a dog training and tracking platform that collects biometric data on pet health.

Following the pitch competition, Leap Venture Studio will host an Investor Panel at the Emerging Brands Stage from 12 to 1 p.m., in which topic experts will discuss fundraising strategies and share tips on how pet industry entrepreneurs can raise capital.

Leap Venture Studio is also supporting two other events at SuperZoo that promote women- and Black-owned pet care businesses.

Bundle x Joy will host a “Bubbles x Beats” networking event for women in the industry on Thursday, Aug. 17, from 12 to 4 p.m. at booth #1846. The event will have bubbly drinks, an airbrushed tattoo station, and networking opportunities. At 3:30 p.m., there will be a group photo to commemorate women leaders in attendance.

PetPlate — which was a finalist in the 2018 cohort of Leap Venture Studio — will host “A Seat at the Table: A Fireside Chat with Retail Buyers and Founders of Color” on Thursday, Aug. 17, from 10 to 11 a.m. at booth #1148. The event will pair emerging, underrepresented pet industry founders with established buyers to discuss what new brands need to do to increase visibility, attract buyers, identify the right partners and establish shelf space.

SuperZoo 2023 will take place Aug. 16 to 18 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. Stay tuned for more of Pet Food Processing’s coverage before, during and after the tradeshow.

Read more about pet food and treat industry events.