Accelerators Startups

Leap Venture Studio wants to champion a new cohort of Europe’s best pet care innovators

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Written by Stefano De Marzo

European pet ownership is on the rise with the continent living through a puppy boom since the beginning of the pandemic. That is one of the reasons why Leap Venture Studio, the first and now largest pet and vet care startup accelerator, is for the first time focusing on Europe. 

It was not long ago that Barkibu, a pet health startup of Spanish origin, considered the biggest petcare online community in the world, was part of the 2019 cohort. According to its founders, it was an opportunity to grow faster and to meet other entrepreneurs in the pet care sector. “There is nothing like this program in Europe”, said Pablo Pazos, CEO of Barkibu, back in the day.

The situation now is that, while the pandemic fueled pet ownership and a focus on physical and mental health, pet care as a sector didn’t keep up with the needs emerging from the pandemic. A huge gap in innovation for digital and high-tech care solutions was created as a consequence of that booming pet ownership. That’s why this accelerator is seeking novel solutions to issues including cat healthcare, senior pet care, pet mental health, pet homelessness, reducing the carbon pawprint, and more. 

Explosive pet sector 

Leap Venture Studio will take in founders with a mission to improve pet health and well-being, offering a custom-tailored startup program and $200,000 in funding, and an industry-specific Demo Day spot with partners’ industry leaders and investors to propel them into future fundraising. 

“We are excited that Leap Venture Studio is now bringing its support network to the European market, with its huge potential for explosive growth and innovation in pet care,” said Brett Yates, CEO of Michelson Found Animals. “The program will give founders at seed stage – and in some cases pre-seed, seed+ and series A – funding, custom mentorship towards business goals, and invaluable support as they prepare for further raises.” 

Along with this program, each founder will have the opportunity to work with R/GA’s global services team on unique projects that will help to advance their business, marketing, consumer understanding, and brand positioning and communications. The sixth cohort of the pet care accelerator will focus on the highest-potential startups serving the $35 billion European market.

Leap Venture Studio is a partnership between Mars Petcare, Michelson Found Animals and R/GA Ventures that will run a 12-week accelerator from September 26th to December 15th as a hybrid program with time in London along with weekly working sessions from anywhere. The deadline for applications is nearing: July 3, 2022.

“Importantly, for each startup, the program crafts a specialized, custom project to achieve their most essential milestones. For example, a company seeking to expand from France to Spain will receive a tailored plan to prepare for and execute its international growth strategy. In every case, R/GA Venture Studio comes in as an extension of the startup’s team, with its award-winning strategists, technologists, designers, and consultants,” said Rachel Sheppard, Director of Ventures, Mars Petcare.

Leap Venture Studio’s accelerator program launched in 2018, and has seen its 33 companies go on to raise US$170 million in follow-on capital – US$100 million in 2021 alone. The majority of Leap’s startup founders identify as women or people of color. Previous European alumni besides Barkibu (Spain) include Dogo (Germany), Project Blu (UK), THE PACK (UK), and Woof Together (Greece). 

Applications for Leap Venture Studio Cohort 6 can be submitted through this link.

About the author

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Stefano De Marzo

Stefano De Marzo is the editor of Novobrief.