The entire Michelson Found Animals team is incredibly proud of the six companies that just graduated from the first cohort of the Leap Venture Studio. The founders of Animal Biome, CuidaMiMascota, Lacuna Diagnostics, Mixlab, PetPlate, and Wild Earth all share our passion and are putting their expertise to work in creating products and services that support pets and the people who love them. All six of these companies made tremendous strides over the course of the 13 week Leap program and we can’t wait to see what they do next.
We are also incredibly excited to announce that applications are open (through December 7th, 2018) for the second cohort of Leap, which will be hosted in our home town of Los Angeles. Southern California is about the pet friendliest place on the planet and also home to a vibrant startup community. With support from the Michelson Found Animals team along with our partners at Mars Petcare and R/GA Ventures (plus a dash of our famous California sunshine), the next group of Leap companies will be empowered to accelerate growth.
Now, you may be wondering how a private foundation fits into a startup venture studio with one of the worlds’ largest private companies. Fair enough. Michelson Found Animals is a unique “beast” that doesn’t quite fit into any one familiar category. Some of our programs are (inter)national and some are local to Los Angeles. Some are philanthropic and others are social enterprises. Our founder, Dr. Gary Michelson, is an inventor and an entrepreneur and thanks to his vision, Found Animals pursues an innovative approach to our mission of Saving Pets, Enriching Lives.
In Los Angeles we operate two retail pet adoption centers where in addition to meeting the furry love of your life you can buy them food, treats, beds, and toys as well as get grooming or dog daycare services. Nationally we offer RFID microchips to shelters, clinics, and rescue groups along with offering a free registry service for pet identification and reunification. This online software as a service (SaaS) product is quite technologically sophisticated and acts as a bridge between our thousands of pet professional users and millions of pet owners to help lost pets get home. Internationally, we fund research to develop a single dose non-surgical sterilant for cats and dogs via our Michelson Prize and Grants in Reproductive Biology.
Since we operate businesses in retail, services, and software for our B2B and B2C clients, as well as funding medical research to benefit dogs and cats, we have a very broad view of the pet industry and are always looking for new ideas to expand our offerings and further support the human animal bond. With that perspective it makes perfect sense for Michelson Found Animals to invest in pet startups and to be a partner in Leap Venture Studios.
As for how that partnership came together, it’s a bit of serendipity. Found Animals was already committed to some type of startup accelerator and speaking to potential program partners in the fall of 2017. I just happened to sit next to someone from the Mars Connected Solutions team at the Pet Healthcare Industry Summit and mention our plans – his eyes lit up and he shared that they were considering the same thing. Our teams met, realized we have very aligned interests and complementary expertise, and the Leap Venture Studio was created in a few short months.
It has been a pleasure to partner with Mars Petcare and R/GA Ventures to support the first cohort of Leap companies and we are all looking forward to doing it again in Los Angeles in 2019.