After years of observing a lack of gender diversity in the pet care industry, Alya Michelson, co-chair of Michelson Philanthropies, and Aimee Gilbreath, (Former) Executive Director of Michelson Found Animals, decided to take action to support female leaders in this space. On International Women’s Day, Michelson Found Animals (MFA) is proud to share stories from innovative and courageous female founders who are supported by our startup education program, Leap Venture Academy.
Why It’s Important to Invest in Female Founders
Pet owners come from all genders, ethnicities, and backgrounds, but the same cannot be said of pet care business leaders. Investing in female founders allows for the needs and desires of more pet owners to be met through new products and services. In addition, MFA recognizes how much harder it is for female founders to secure investment, despite data that women-led businesses not only have greater innovation and lower turnover, but also greater ROI and revenue.
Leap Venture Academy Bootcamp for Female Founders
To support the growth of early stage pet care startups founded by women, the Leap Venture Academy hosted its first Bootcamp in October 2019 with our partner, Kinship, a division of Mars Petcare. For four days, the 19 female founders from 13 pet care startups shared their challenges, learned from experts, and formed a strong community. When reflecting on the Bootcamp, Gilbreath shared: “We learned, we laughed, we cried, and most importantly we created community. It was an honor to support these leaders who are the future of pet care.”
The 19 startups that attended the Bootcamp addressed a wide array of problems faced by pet care owners with the common goal of making the world a better place for pets. Read on for spotlights on four startups with female founders:
Chippin was founded by grad school classmates, Haley Russel and Laura Colagrande, who sought a nutritious and sustainable food alternative for their dog, Wren. They discovered the powerful nutrition of cricket protein and how environmentally-friendly it is to produce cricket protein dog snacks. These innovative female founders were recently awarded a Forbes 30 Under 30 for Social Entrepreneurship for promoting a healthier and safer planet for our pets!
Dig Dates, the dog person’s dating app, was inspired by a failed relationship of co-founder Casey Isaacson when it became obvious that her dog and her new boyfriend did not get along. Casey and her sister Leigh heard more stories of similar breakups and were inspired to create Dig. Now, dog lovers and owners can be sure that they and their dog will find the perfect match to create a stronger and happier relationship.
Dogdrop is the new dog daycare in Downtown LA for the busy, millennial pet parent. With 70% of Millennials owning a pet, there is a huge need for more flexible, tech-enabled, and fun daycare options. Co-founders Shaina Denny & Greer Wilk were frustrated with finding care for their own dog, Poppy, and worked to create a solution they knew would work.
PetHospice was created to minimize the stress and anxiety surrounding hospice and end of life care for a pet. Shea Cox is a hospice and palliative care expert, veterinarian, and author who cares deeply about supporting families through this process with time and support. Her solutions include telehealth support, in-home care, professional grief counseling, and free education & community support.
During breaks between speakers and workshops through the Bootcamp, the female founders sat with each other to discuss collaboration and partnerships between their startups. All four days of the Bootcamp fostered a supportive environment that has lasted long past the event.
Today, Celebrate the Women in Your Life
MFA recognizes how important it is to invest in female founded pet care startups to ensure that the future of pet care supports every pet parent and their furry family members. The innovative startups that attended the Bootcamp last fall are working to solve problems that women uniquely identified – from helping our planet with sustainable dog treats to easing the stress of caring for a dying pet. On International Women’s Day, we celebrate these female founders and all of the women in our world that tackle problems head on to create a healthier and happier world!