Mars launches pet food start-up accelerator program

Mars Petcare, Michelson Found Animals Foundation and R/GA Ventures have launched a startup-centric accelerator program for pet food companies.

Photo by Palto |
Photo by Palto |

Mars Petcare, Michelson Found Animals Foundation and R/GA Ventures announced the launch of the Leap Venture Studio (Leap): a startup-centric accelerator program built to springboard innovation in the growing pet ecosystem. 

Leap is targeting early-stage startups and offers access to strategic, financial, and creative resources to accelerate product development, develop industry partnerships, and refine business plans. Startups in the program will work closely with mentors from R/GA, Mars Petcare, Michelson Found Animals and their extended networks. At the end of the program, they will have the opportunity to pitch to investors and industry leaders.

Leap comes at a time when the pet industry is positioned to experience significant growth and innovation, driven by millennial pet ownership. Millennials now account for 35 percent of pet ownership, recently surpassing Baby Boomers in the market. With this shift has come an increase in demand for modern and smart solutions to help them take better care of their pets. Pet spending is estimated to increase by more than 50 percent over the next five years, and sales in pet care and food exceeded US$100 billion in 2017, according to Euromonitor International.

About the Leap Venture program

The 2018 Leap Venture Studio areas of Interest and Technology include:

  • Pet Nutrition and Wellness
  • Pet Health and Medical
  • Pet Diagnostics
  • Solutions/Platforms/Services for Pet Owners/Vets
  • AI and Machine Learning
  • Advanced Analytics
  • Connected Products and Spaces
  • Genetics

Participating startups will be split into two cohorts of six companies each. A team of R/GA’s strategists, technologists, designers and consultants will collaborate with the startups to help execute their business plans and prepare them for future milestones including fundraising, pitching and business development. The startups will receive mentorship from industry executives and access to global partners. The program will conclude with the opportunity to secure funding from investors within Mars Petcare, Michelson Found Animals and the broader venture capital community.  

Leap will take place in Portland, Oregon, a city with an especially pet-friendly culture. The program will be hosted at R/GA’s office in the heart of the Pearl District.  

Applications will open on March 7, 2018, and admissions will roll throughout the year. The first program module will commence at the end of July with a Demo Day scheduled for the fall. Qualified candidates must have developed a Minimum Viable Product. Leap is open to companies at a variety of stages, from pre-seed to seed to Series A, and business models including B2B and B2C.

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