Leap Ventures Backs Female-Led Startups with New Bootcamp

Female leaders with Leap executives at the inaugural bootcamp. SoonKyu Park, business operations manager at Kinship Labs (far left); Aimee Gilbreath, executive director at Michelson Found Animals Foundation (third from left); Alya Michelson, do-founder of Michelson Found Animals Foundation (fourth from right holding sign); Isabel Havens, program coordinator at Michelson Found Animals Foundation (third from right); and Ali Miller, director of growth at Kinship Labs (second from right).

Leap Ventures recently held its inaugural Leap Venture Academy Bootcamp, a weeklong program to help support female-led startups in the pet care industry. The bootcamp included workshops, fireside chats and networking opportunities.

The effort is an extension of the collaboration between Kinship, a division of Mars Petcare in McLean, Va., and Los Angeles-based nonprofit Michelson Found Animals Foundation.

"For the inaugural Leap Venture Academy Bootcamp, we chose to exclusively support women-led startups," said Alya Michelson, co-founder of Michelson Found Animals Foundation. "It is a very personal moment for me as a musician and artist working in areas heavily dominated by men. I recognize the value and importance in having gender-diversity within the pet industry and creating a pipeline of women-led startups for investment."

Thirteen startups participated in the bootcamp:

  • Brainy Pup, a subscription-based service in which dog owners rent premium enrichment toys for a flat monthly fee.
  • Chippin, pet food with "sustainable" and "underutilized" proteins, such as crickets, plants and fish.
  • Dig—The Dog Person’s Dating App, a way for dog-owners to find a compatible match, plan a dog-friendly date and connect with local dog-friendly businesses.
  • Dogdrop, a dog day care based around flexibility featuring a variety of membership plans and multiple retail locations.
  • How I Met My Dog, a website that custom matches prospective dog owners with adoptable dogs based on behavior and lifestyle so "the dog you fall in love with is a dog you can truly live with."
  • K9 Align, a company that develops wearable therapeutics for canine hip dysplasia and related mobility issues.
  • NewRoad Foods, which makes human grade, non-GMO pet foods that are baked to order and delivered fresh each month.
  • iMyK9 from PAWS by O-no, an app-enabled monitor and temperature tag for dogs "to prevent them from dying of heat stroke in vehicles."
  • Pet Parent, a pet adoption platform that facilitates the end-to-end process.
  • PetHospice, a telehealth and education platform focused on quality-of-life and end-of-life support for veterinarians, pets and their families.
  • Petminded, a travel planner for pet owners.
  • SKYPaws, a wireless vitals monitoring device that measures ECG, heart rate, temperature and oxygen saturation.
  • Teef!, a pet dental care product that’s designed to "create a healthier mouth to prevent dental disease."

"The pet care industry’s explosive growth shows no signs of abating, and there are boundless opportunities for brands to grow innovative solutions that improve the lives of pets," said Ben Jacobs, head of Ventures and Partnerships at Kinship. "Since we launched Leap in 2017, we’ve been able to help springboard hundreds of startups through our academy and a dozen companies through our exclusive accelerator program. The bootcamp provides another opportunity for us to help early-stage companies advance to the next stage."