Hosting Our First Ever Animal Welfare Summit
Here at Michelson Found Animals, our mission is to save pets and enrich lives. For us, philanthropy is an opportunity to focus funds, resources, and business acumen towards big—but solvable—problems.
Our initiatives, including our Better Neighbor Project and Pet-Inclusive Housing Initiative, were created from our desire to make the world a better place for pets and their people. With our Leap Venture Studio & Academy, we strive to support founders, innovators, and leaders as they make big strides to disrupt the pet care industry with groundbreaking new products, services, and more. We value innovation, especially innovation in the animal welfare space. In order to support new innovation in animal welfare, we hosted our first ever Animal Welfare Summit in partnership with the Association for Animal Welfare Advancement.
This two-day virtual event, held last week on Thursday, July 29, and Friday, July, 30, 2021, is for startups or organizations (both for-profit and nonprofit) that are building products and services intended to improve the welfare of animals in shelters. This event built relationships between the innovators and industry leaders, with the goal of building a community that will further our mission of saving pets and enriching lives.
We were blown away by the companies that submitted interest in joining the event, and chose the following 13 for their innovative approach to improving animal welfare and for their strong teams:
- Adopets (Boston, MA) provides animal shelters and rescue organizations a seamless approach to the entire process of pet adoption by enhancing their existing software platform.
- Animals First, LLC (New York, NY) uses the latest technology to improve the efficiency of shelters and rescues with the goal of increasing adoptions.
- CGA Academy (San Francisco, CA) is a job training program for people with barriers to employment (e.g. domestic violence survivors) in the pet grooming industry, which faces a chronic shortage of skilled labor.
- Doobert (Milwaukee, WI) is the Uber for animal rescue, connecting over 35,000 Dooberteers with rescues and shelters to help with transport, fostering, and even community cat case management.
- Highfive Vet Wholesale (Moss Beach, CA) is a radically transparent pet drug marketplace to help shelters and rescues save money by connecting them directly to manufacturers and avoiding high mark-ups.
- How I Met My Dog (New York, NY) matches rescue dogs and adopters based on individual behavior and lifestyle, not breed or “love at first sight.”
- Humanitru (New York, NY) provides nonprofits with a software operating system to manage not only their donors but also volunteers, events, and marketing in a way that engages their supporters more deeply.
- PupPod (Seattle, WA) has built a platform for connected pet products that can provide mental stimulation and physical activity for dogs, especially shelter dogs.
- Rescue Force (Martinez, CA) is a mobile app project that connects the animal rescue community, allowing individuals and organizations to find volunteers and resources in their area.
- Sniffy Labs Inc. (Rochester, NY) is a startup that builds technology to improve the relationship between humans and animals.
- Sploot! (New Jersey) is the most PAWSOME collection of Marketing & Team Building Strategies plus D.I.Y. customizable content for animal rescue organizations.
- TREAT (Israel) allows users to feed a real-life dog/cat in need by taking care of its avatar.
- Vidaah (Sault Ste. Marie, Canada) delivers live, around-the-clock veterinarian service in 100+ languages from the convenience of a phone, desktop, or tablet through a worldwide network of experienced veterinarians.
Over the course of the two days, these companies spoke to a variety of leaders within animal welfare and the startup space through mentor office hours, lunchtime founder stories, workshops, and panels. Our mentor office hours allowed these founders to engage one-on-one with experts and leaders within the field, providing them with the knowledge and connections to help lead them to success.
We heard from our very own Brett Yates, CEO of Michelson Found Animals, who held a discussion about trends within the animal welfare and pet care space, as well as the AAWA’s President & CEO, Jim Tedford. Greg Lucas, CEO of Shelterluv, and Jessica Schleder, CEO of Adoptimize, also shared insights from their journeys building their own companies. Our panels and workshops, which covered topics such as fundraising and engaging with shelters, provided insights and tips to navigating the pet care space.
At the end of the summit, we awarded a $10,000 grant to recognize achievement in the animal welfare space as well as aid in continuing efforts towards an animal friendly world. The grant was decided upon a peer-vote amongst the companies and was judged based on impact on pet care, if the company/organization was representative of the animal welfare community, and if the grant would make a real difference in the company/organization’s journey. At the end of the peer-vote, the grant was split between How I Met My Dog and Canine Grooming Academy (CGA).
Rather than matching adopters with dogs based on breed or love at first sight, How I Met My Dog matches rescue dogs and adopters based on individual behavior and lifestyle. CGA is a job training program for people with barriers to employment (e.g. domestic violence survivors) in the pet grooming industry, which faces a chronic shortage of skilled labor. We are so excited to see how How I Met My Dog and CGA will grow, as well as all of the other companies who have done incredible work towards building a better world for animals!
We are so appreciative of the animal welfare innovators for joining us over the two days of the summit! We are also so thankful for all the speakers and mentors who volunteered their time to help these companies by sharing their insights, learnings, and wisdom.