Pet-focused startups from across the United States gathered at Purina's St. Louis, Missouri headquarters this week for the inaugural Pet Care Innovation Summit powered by Purina. Entrepreneurs representing 25 startups met with industry insiders and experts and had the opportunity to pitch their business to Purina's 9 Square Ventures team, the company's corporate venturing group, and other industry investors. Two learning tracks also were offered at the summit with sessions focused on digitally driven traction and continuous innovation, making it a networking and educational opportunity for attendees.

Los Angeles-based Basepaws pitched its way to a planned $125,000 investment from Purina at the event. The company sequences the DNA of cats and provides health and dietary recommendations to customers. Dig, a startup dating app connecting like-minded dog owners, also secured $50,000 in digital marketing support from Purina and Centro to help its business grow.

"Financial backing is important to any startup, but money alone won't drive success," said Bill Broun, co-lead of Purina's 9 Square Ventures Division and vice president of personalization and business development at Purina. "Having a network of support is key, and that is what we are providing with the Pet Care Innovation program at Purina."

All participants of the summit were invited to join the Pet Care Innovation Network, an invite-only network for founders of scalable, high potential early stage companies. Pet Care Innovation Network members receive access to business tools, educational opportunities, and exclusive networking events like the Pet Care Innovation Summit at no cost courtesy of industry leader Purina.

Participating startups in this year's Pet Care Innovation Summit powered by Purina represented pet tech, services, nutrition, food technology, as well as traditional food treats and litter businesses, including AnimalBiome, Basepaws, Bond Pet Foods, Dig, Playdate, NomNomNow, PupPod, DogSpot, Barkly, CleverPet, BioDOGradable Bags, Pupjoy, Ewegurt, PetHospice, Shameless Pets, FetchFind, Whole Life Pet, SpotOn and Sky Shepherd.

The Pet Care Innovation Summit is part of an ongoing effort by Purina and investing leaders, Active Capital, to support and connect with early stage pet care startups addressing pet and pet owner needs in the areas of pet health and wellness, services, technology, nutrition and emerging innovations. Pet care startups can apply for the Pet Care Innovation Prize program, which invites entrepreneurs to join a class of their peers to learn from pet care experts and each other through development opportunities led by Purina.

To find out more about the Pet Care Innovation program, including how to connect with the team, visit petcareinnovation.net.