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Mars Helps Launch Program for Pet-Industry Startup Firms

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It’s working with Michelson Found Animals Foundation and R/GA Ventures.

A new accelerator program being launched by Mars Petcare, Michelson Found Animals Foundation and R/GA Ventures will support startup companies in the pet industry.

It’s called the Leap Venture Studio, and it’s targeting early-stage startups. The program offers access to strategic, financial and creative resources to accelerate product development, develop industry partnerships and refine business plans, according to a press release. 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.

“Together with Michelson Found Animals and R/GA we’re taking the lead on creating the future of pet care by supporting the startup community,” said Leonid Sudakov, president of Connected Solutions, the global ventures, genetics, data and analytics division at Mars Petcare. “Mars Petcare has one purpose: ‘Make a Better World for Pets.’ And we will do that by becoming the partner of choice for founders seeking to turn their visions for the future of pet care into reality.”

Leap comes at a time when the pet industry is positioned to experience significant growth and innovation, driven by millennial pet ownership. The trend is bringing “an increase in demand for modern and smart solutions to help them take better care of their pets,” according to the release.

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“Our lives are enriched by pets, and we use technology and science to obtain real, sustainable results that better the lives of pets and their people,” said Dr. Gary Michelson, founder of Michelson Found Animals Foundation. “We’re excited about this opportunity to partner with other industry leaders to identify and foster meaningful innovations, and support the growing community of startups developing smart solutions for pets.”

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 customized 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 program will conclude with the opportunity to secure funding from investors within Mars Petcare, Michelson Found Animals and the broader venture capital community.

“R/GA is excited to collaborate with leaders like Mars Petcare and Michelson Found Animals to launch one of the first-ever pet-centric Venture Studios, leveraging our creative capital and network to create value for the participating companies,” said Stephen Plumlee, global chief operating officer of R/GA and managing partner of R/GA Ventures. 

Leap will take place in Portland, OR.

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Applications opened on March 7, and admissions will roll throughout the year. The first program module will begin 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.

For more information about Leap or to submit an application, visit: www.leapventurestudio.com and follow #leapvs on Twitter.

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Video: Adorable Cat Melts Hearts By Trying on Eyewear for Children

Kids see that ‘if she can wear hers, they can wear them too.’

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A rescue cat in Pennsylvania is getting attention for her role in making children feel comfortable with their eyeglasses.

Truffles happily wears brightly colored frames to set a good example for the young patients of A Child’s Eyes in Mechanicsburg, the Daily Mail reports.

“If a child is feeling a bit nervous I ask Truffles if she wants to show them her glasses,” says Danielle Crull, owner of the business. “When they see Truffles wearing them it’s a really good thing and shows that if she can wear hers, they can wear them too.”

Crull says Truffles, who is a family pet, enjoys wearing the frames.

A video of the cat trying on eyewear has been viewed millions of times.

Watch the video:

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Dog Clothing Firm Gets $250K ‘Shark Tank’ Investment

Mark Cuban is taking a 25% stake in the firm.

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Dog Threads, a company that makes matching clothing for dogs and their owners, was awarded a $250,000 investment during an episode of ABC’s “Shark Tank.”

Scott and Gina Davis, founders of the Wayzata, MN-based firm, made a deal with Markk Cuban after their successful pitch, the Star-Tribune reports.

He agreed to invest the quarter-million and take a 25 percent stake in the company.

The episode was filmed in June but did not air until Sunday.

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“It was definitely surreal even seeing it now,” Gina Davis said. The couple kept quiet about the results for all these months.

The company sells items such as sweaters, T-shirts and plaid shirts. The founders expect sales to total $240,000 this year, the Star-Tribune reports.

Read more at the Star-Tribune

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Guy Smuggles Overweight Cat Onto Plane, Gets Stripped of Air Miles

His pet exceeded the weight limit.

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Russian airline Aeroflot has taken away a traveler’s loyalty miles after smuggling his cat onto the plane.

Mikhail Galin was headed to Vladivostok from Moscow and decided to bring his overweight cat, Viktor, along in the cabin, CNN reports.

The problem: The airline’s weight limit for pets in the cabin is 8 kilograms, or about 17.6 pounds. Viktor tipped the scales at 10 kilograms.

Galin didn’t want his cat to ride in the belly of the plane. He didn’t take the flight.

He wrote a Facebook post about the situation and asked for help finding a similar cat of lower weight. Someone came forward with an appropriate feline, and Galin returned for another try.

When it was time for the cat to be weighed, he presented the thinner substitute, according to CNN. Before boarding, he pulled the old switcheroo.

Galin and Viktor made it to Vladivostok without issue. But Galin’s viral Facebook post caught the attention of the airline, which then stripped him of his air miles.

He took the loss in stride, saying, “I got a penalty. It’s normal.”

Read more at CNN

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