More than just an investment

By Asad Butt | Partner, Leap Ventures

Every day, I talk to entrepreneurs eager to share how their startups will change the pet care world…if only they had access to more money and to pet care-specific counsel and mentorship. It’s a story investors and leaders in this industry have heard for years.

Luckily, more and more initiatives are emerging to help fund and counsel pet care startups in their early stages.

That’s the premise for Leap Venture Studio, our pet care-focused accelerator program founded by Michelson Found Animals, R/GA Ventures, and Kinship (a division of Mars Petcare). Leap Ventures is one of the first programs designed to ignite meaningful growth across the pet care ecosystem and is at the forefront of helping founders get the resources they need to reach the next level.

Our first-of-its-kind accelerator program not only invests in pet care startups, but also provides them with much needed access to the best minds in pet care, investment, innovation, and operations.

As we close out 2019, applications are now open for our next Leap Venture Studio class. You can read more about what we’re looking for in participants here. The next Studio program is set to take place from February 10 — May 7, 2020. While we are only selecting up to eight startups, we will provide targeted feedback to all applicants.

Regardless of what stage you are at, I encourage you to apply to join our next cohort.

In the year since Leap Venture Studio was founded, we’ve accelerated 12 startups across two cohorts, including Wild Earth, Mixlab, and Barkibu. Our participants have tested concepts, connected with hundreds of experts (including folks across Mars Petcare), and pitched investors, industry leaders and the startup community at Leap Ventures-hosted live events. Combined, these startups have raised more than $50M. Most importantly, Studio graduates have seen their products used by millions to improve the lives of pets and their parents.

The types of support we provide our startups with ranges from the light (“Can you introduce me to this investor?”) to the complex (“Can you help me formulate my new dried food?”). While our formal program runs for three months, the relationship doesn’t end once the program does. Because we invest in each company, we are deeply committed to helping them hit their milestones and goals — short-term and long-term ones. Our success is a direct reflection of their success.

The beauty of our program centers on the collective brain power of our partnership with Michelson Found Animals, R/GA Ventures and Kinship — and the assistance that these respective industry powerhouses provide to the startups.

Michelson Found Animals is the only national animal welfare non-profit dedicated to ending pet homeless with a social enterprise model. It provides startups with expertise and connections in animal welfare and veterinary research and development, experience running pet retail stores, as well as access to and insights from the millions of pet owners in their database.

R/GA Ventures is one of the leading innovation platforms that helps connect the industry to startups and innovators. Not only does Leap provide founders with access to R/GA’s award-winning talent and robust client network, but conduct a personalized service project with each of the startups in the program.

Kinship leverages the power of Mars Petcare to support new ideas and startups that will create a better world for pets. Between Mars and Kinship, there is access to deep expertise in pet nutrition, health care, and cutting edge technology to help our startups learn how to scale.

In addition to the deep connections the selected companies will develop with the Studio partners, participating founders and teams can also expect to build strong relationships with other early and growth stage companies and the global pet care market. These bonds will continue to last and expand long after the program ends.

All in all, our program is designed to move the needle for your company just when you need it most.

If you want to learn more about our program, join us for our next informational webinar. And don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions — I’m always willing to chat with entrepreneurs dedicated to building a better world for pets.



Kinship is a coalition of like-minded people passionate about creating the future of pet care.

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Kinship is a coalition of like-minded people passionate about creating the future of pet care.