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Leap Venture Studio and Black Pet Business Network Launch Pitch Competition

Minority-owned petcare startups can apply to compete for a $10,000 grand prize announced at SuperZoo.




(PRESS RELEASE) LOS ANGELES – Leap Venture Studio, the world’s first and largest pet care-specific accelerator, announces applications are now open for the Leap pitch competition hosted in partnership with the Black Pet Business Network. Founders of North American pet care startups who identify as a person of color are encouraged to apply by May 21. Selected finalists will present their pitches live at the SuperZoo Pitch Competition in Las Vegas for the chance to win the $10,000 grand prize.

Despite minority households leading the American pet population boom of the last 15 years, representation and diversity among pet care professionals have not followed suit. Every pet parent’s challenges are influenced by the unique geographical, social, and cultural factors in their lives, so it’s imperative that the professionals there to support them are able to recognize and understand these influences. Opportunities like the Leap pitch competition are aimed at narrowing these gaps across the industry.

Since its founding in 2018, the Leap Venture Studio accelerator program has placed a special emphasis on consciously supporting and funding pet care startup founders from underrepresented communities. 70% of the Leap portfolio companies have founders who identify as women or people of color.

The Black Pet Business Network was created in 2021 by Lashonda Geffrard in order to create a supportive and encouraging community for African Americans in the pet care industry. Since its founding, the Black Pet Business Network has connected black founders to opportunities such as grants, scholarships, meetups, and the library of resources that can be found in their online communities.

“At Leap Venture Studio we believe passionately that pet care should be accessible to all. This means that we have to do our part to ensure that pet care professionals are as diverse and inclusive as the pet parent communities we serve,” said Rachel Sheppard, director of Ventures at Mars Petcare. “We’re excited to be partnering with the Black Black Pet Business Network and can’t wait to see the innovation coming out of the Leap pitch competition at SuperZoo this summer.”

“It’s our mission to push past the conversations of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the pet industry. We’re truly beyond excited to partner with Leap Ventures! BPBN is committed to advocating and creating new opportunities for people of color in the pet space. Together we can achieve more,” said Lashonda Geffrard, founder of Black Pet Business Network.


To apply for the competition, click here and submit your application by May 21st. Finalists will be notified on June 20th and invited to compete live at SuperZoo in Las Vegas from August 15th – 18th.

About Leap Venture Studio

The Leap Venture Studio & Academy is one of the first programs designed to ignite impactful growth for pet care startups. The program represents Michelson Found Animals and Mars Petcare’s commitment to improving the lives of pets and their owners through science, technology, and innovation. Leap Venture Academy is a series of pre-accelerator, community-building programs for early-stage pet care startups and innovators. These activities include fellowship programs and pitch competitions.



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