Meet Rachel Sheppard, Director of Enterprises at Mars Petcare

Leap Venture Studio is the world’s first pet care startup accelerator. On September 19th, we announced our latest cohort of seven European startups that will participate in our 12-week program from September 26th until Demo Day on December 15th. The hybrid program will be online and face-to-face in London.

Throughout the accelerator, our LVS team will support these companies to create a customized path to reach their milestones with the help of award-winning strategists, technologists, designers and consultants. All founders receive the local equivalent of $200,000, personalized guidance and support in preparation for future fundraisers.

The program is consolidated with a Demo Day, where the founders present their companies to the main investors of our partnership.

How did the LVS come about?

The Leap Venture Studio program is a partnership between Mars Petcare (the world’s largest pet care organization), leading animal welfare organization Michelson Found Animals and world-class service platform R/GA Ventures. It is the world’s first accelerator focused exclusively on investing in early-stage and early-stage pet care companies to improve the quality of life for pets and their owners.

Founded by Stephen Plumlee, Winson Wong and Aimee Gilbreath in 2018, the accelerator program saw 33 companies raise $170 million in follow-on capital and two exits.

How has the company evolved in the last two years?

Our program is more accessible now than when it started. Like many organizations, we adapted to the virtual-only world during the pandemic and have now adapted to a more hybrid model, which has opened us up to working with more companies around the world.

People do not need to fly to a specific location for 12 weeks to participate in the accelerator. We also took a more regional approach, as seen in the recent announcement by our European cohort. Finally, we evolved with the industry. Our original cohorts tended to be more nutrition focused, whereas we are now seeing more focus on services and the veterinary world.

What can we expect from LVS in the future?

There are many interesting things in our future! First and foremost, we will continue to focus on DEI and work with founders who share our vision of making pet care inclusive and affordable for all parents of pets. You can also expect to see a focus on certain categories in the future, such as cat health, senior pets, and veterinary solutions.

Ultimately, we hope to be able to scale and bring more – more cohorts, more specific programs and more support for our growing industry.

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