Leap Venture Studio is celebrating the graduation of six pet care startups from its accelerator program, which is designed to foster innovation in the pet care industry. The graduates include Barkibu of Cambre, Spain; Jiminy’s of Berkeley, Calif.; Pet Releaf of Littleton, Colo.; Shameless Pets of Chicago; Smalls of New York; and Sniffspot of Seattle.

For 12 weeks, the six startups sought solutions to their business challenges, as they received access to a wide range of business networks, industry knowledge and creative capital. The startups’ engagement begins with a product and brand assessment, during which companies’ strategic needs are identified to inform a product/market impact plan. At demo day, the companies were given the opportunity to pitch their businesses to investors and potential industry partners.

“All the startups impressed us with their applications but to see these companies with their ability to quickly leverage the program opportunities and achieve sustainable traction toward targeted market opportunities, business plans and solutions come to fruition in this way has blown us away,” said Jonathan Bradley, vice president and partner at R/GA Ventures, which created the program with Mars Petcare and Michelson Found Animals Foundation. “There is so much promise in this cohort, and we are excited to see where they go from here.”

With the success of the program, Leap Venture Studio has launched Leap Venture Academy to create more outlets for development and growth, said Ben Jacobs, head of ventures and partnerships at Kinship, a division of Mars Petcare, which has headquarters in McLean, Va.

Leap Venture Academy events, which begin in June and will be held throughout the year, will be conducted both in-person and online. Activities will include pitch competitions, bootcamps, classes, webinars, meetups and hackathons. Additionally, Leap Venture Studio applications will open in the fall for the third cohort of startups for the accelerator program running February through May 2020 in Los Angeles.

“With the introduction of the Leap Venture Academy plus the third Leap Venture Studio cohort, we are excited to continue and expand our support for the growing community of innovators in our industry with a range of resources for companies at all stages of development,” said Aimee Gilbreath, executive director of the Michelson Found Animals Foundation. “And we’re also pleased to continue to host the third Leap program here in Los Angeles, our home market and the source of a wealth of innovation.”

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