Five pet food and products entrepreneurs, startups and smaller companies have been selected as finalists in the Pet Care Innovation Prize, sponsored by Purina. The five finalists will each receive a US$10,000 prize, plus an immersion in a multi-day accelerator program to get advice, mentorship and access to business partners. One of the finalists will be selected the grand prize winner, to be announced at a later date, and will receive an additional US$10,000 for business development and an exhibit at the 2017 Global Pet Expo, a large pet industry event.

More than 80 companies from 11 countries applied for the Pet Care Innovation Prize. The contest identifies and supports early-stage pet care companies in the growing global pet food market. The competition is tailored to companies producing food, nutrition, pet care, play and technology products and services for dogs, cats and their owners.

Pet Care Innovation Prize finalists:

  • FetchFind | Chicago | Founder: Jamie Migdal |

FetchFind is an integrated eLearning marketplace for the pet industry. With courses like pet first aid, canine behavior and customer service basics, FetchFind turns pet enthusiasts into pet pros while helping pet industry businesses train and retain staff.

  • Ewegurt |South Barrington, Illinois | Founder: Jennifer Erdman |

Ewegurt makes sheep milk yogurt treats/food toppers for dogs with a proprietary blend of sheep milk yogurt, protein, vegetables and fruit freeze-dried for shelf stability. Ewegurt products also claim to help reduce pet anxiety and promote immune and gut health.

  • K9 Fit Club | Chicago | Founder: Tricia Montgomery |

K9 Fit Club has created exercise instruction that people do with their dogs in a classroom setting. Both the human and the dog benefit physically from the structured physical activities. The proprietary fitness programs are taught in a controlled small group environment by K9 Fit Club Master Trainers in licensed K9 Fit Club locations.

  • Obe | San Francisco | Founder: Hilary Jensen |

Obe's flagship product is the ProBowl and its companion iOS app. ProBowl is a patent-pending smart scale that connects to the cloud and your phone in the form of a dishwasher safe bowl and smart base and smartphone app. With Obe, pet parents can feed their pet much more accurately, helping ensure pets get the nutrition they need, when they need it, without getting too much.

  • PupPod | Seattle | Founder: Erick Eidus |

PupPod is a gaming, learning and social platform for dogs and pet parents. Pet parents can use PupPod to play with their dog in person or remotely. Dogs exercise their mind by playing a puzzle game that gets progressively more difficult based on a dog's actual performance. Dogs are rewarded with kibble or treats for taking correct actions in the game. Pet parents can share their dog's progress and videos on social media and compare achievements across the PupPod community.