As the trend of treating pets as family members gains momentum, the pet tech industry has witnessed significant growth. Venture capital firms have been quick to recognize the potential of this industry and have invested heavily in pet tech startups.
The pet tech market, which was valued at $5 billion in 2022, is expected to grow at an annual rate of over 15% from 2023 to 2032, driven by the increasing demand for innovative products and services that cater to pet owners’ needs.
But what exactly is pet tech? It’s all about using technology to make life easier and more convenient for pet parents, from GPS trackers for dogs to personalized subscription services for pet food. And the good news is that pet owners are willing to pay a premium for products and services that make their lives easier and keep their furry friends happy.
Why Would You Want to Build a Pet Tech Startup?
Why should you consider entering the pet tech game? First, it’s part of bigger market trends, such as sustainability and wellness, DTC, and subscription-based services, offering significant growth potential. Second, the pet tech sector is still relatively new, which means valuations are fairer compared to other industries.
Why would investors be interested in pet tech you may ask? The answer is simple – pets are increasingly viewed as family members, and there’s a growing demand for personalized and convenient pet products and services. With subscription services for pet food being hugely popular, there’s ample opportunity for innovation and disruption in the market.
So, if you’re passionate about improving the lives of pets and their owners and have a great idea for a pet tech startup, there’s no better time to get started. With many investors driven by personal experiences and passion, now is the time to make a difference in the pet tech industry and change the world, one pet at a time.
We’ve compiled a list of valuable resources to help you stay up-to-date with industry news and connect with other pet founders. We’ll also show you where to find initial seed capital and more venture capital when you’re ready to scale your company.
We hope that our guide contains new and useful information for you, whether you’re just starting out or looking to grow your existing pet business.
So why wait? Start building your pet startup today!
One of the best ways to stay informed and inspired is to subscribe to newsletters specifically designed for pet tech startup founders. Here are three newsletters you should definitely check out:
My Dog is a Robot 🤖
This newsletter is a goldmine of information on the latest pet tech news, startups, and trends. Curated by Mike Hemstreet, it’s a great resource for those looking to stay up-to-date on all things pet tech. Mike is highly approachable via email, and we’ve had the pleasure of being featured in his newsletter on several occasions. You can subscribe to the newsletter at mydogisarobot.com.
Sifted, a media platform backed by the Financial Times, collaborates with Purina Accelerator Labs to curate the Unleashed newsletter. This monthly publication provides comprehensive coverage of the European pet tech industry, offering founders valuable market insights. You can subscribe to the Unleashed newsletter at sifted.eu.
And finally, stay informed on the latest trends, product developments, and retail insights in the pet industry with the GlobalPETS newsletter. While it may focus less on startups and more on corporate players, this publication provides valuable insights for anyone interested in the industry. To subscribe to the GlobalPETS newsletter, visit their site and see the optin form in the sidebar.
Purina hosts a Slack group for pet tech startups to connect, share knowledge, and network with other industry professionals. To access the group, simply subscribe to the Unleashed newsletter and check the box indicating your interest in joining the Slack group. The group hosts various virtual pet events and makes important announcements through the Slack channel. We highly recommend joining the community.
Similarly, Leap Ventures also has a Slack group for pet startup founders, but it’s not as active. You can join the group via this link.
Pet Startup Incubators
Once you’re well-informed and have a solid business idea, it’s time to turn it into reality. Startup incubators can help you do just that by providing mentorship, resources, and support to budding entrepreneurs. Let’s take a look at two of the most prominent pet startup incubators:
Unleashed by Purina
Unleashed by Purina is a 12-week incubator program designed to support pet tech startups. As a global leader in pet care, Purina offers mentorship, resources, and equity-free capital of 50,000 CHF, along with an opportunity to pitch ideas to investors. Unleashed aims to connect with disruptive pet tech and pet care startups in Europe, with the goal of enriching the lives of pets and their owners.
They accept only 6-7 startups per cohort, and it’s a competitive selection process, with 200 to 400 startups applying every year. While we have attempted to join the program for three years running without success, we can attest to the expertise and kindness of the Unleashed team, led by Kim Bill.
In addition to the incubator program, Unleashed organizes various events (both online and offline), runs a newsletter, and operates a Slack group we mentioned above and which you should definitely join.
Leap Ventures is a venture capital firm and incubator that focuses on innovation in pet care, primarily in the US. However, they recently had a cohort dedicated exclusively to European companies. As a startup accelerator in the pet industry, they provide portfolio companies with venture capital investment, customized programming, and mentorship tailored to meet each company’s unique needs. Each company in the program receives $200K USD in venture capital funding, works closely with Leap Venture Studio partners (Mars Petcare, Michelson Found Animals Foundation, and R/GA Ventures), and receives direct support and guidance from industry experts.
The program is held in a hybrid format, with two weeks in-person and 10 weeks online. Leap Ventures works with startups to help them scale and provides support in areas like business development, marketing, and fundraising. For more information about Leap Ventures, please visit leapventurestudio.com.
Antler is one of the most active early-stage investors, and we at Cooper Pet Care cannot recommend them enough. They have invested in more than 750 companies and supported over 5000 founders, with a vast network of mentors, some of whom have extensive experience in the pet industry. Although Antler does not specialize in pet startups, they have incubated several, including Cooper Pet Care and Pawjourr.
With an investment of €100,000 for a 10% equity stake in your company, Antler offers mentorship, resources, and support to help your business scale and succeed. If you’re looking for early-stage investment and support, we highly recommend considering Antler as a partner.
Venture Capital Firms
Now that your idea is taking shape, you’ll likely need funding to bring it to life. Venture capital firms that invest in pet startups can be the key to unlocking the financial resources you need. Here are some VC firms with a history of investing in pet startups.
Our list focuses on European venture capital firms, reflecting our expertise in this region. As a European-based company, we understand the unique opportunities and challenges facing the EU venture capital and pet markets. Therefore, our list is tailored to startups looking to raise capital in this region.
- 🇳🇱 Anterra Capital invested in Dalma, a French pet insurance company.
- 🇸🇪 Creandum invested in FirstVet, a digital veterinary clinic that offers pet owners the convenience of video meetings with experienced vets.
- 🇬🇧 Felix Capital invested in Lassie, a Swedish pet insurance company.
- 🇫🇷 Five Seasons Ventures invested in two of Europe’s top direct-to-consumer pet food delivery companies: Butternut Box in the UK and Barkyn in Portugal.
- 🇬🇧 Flyer One Ventures, invested in Cooper Pet Care, the leading telehealth veterinary provider in the Netherlands.
- 🇩🇪 HV Capital invested in Felmo, a mobile veterinary service that brings veterinary care to pet owners’ doorsteps.
- 🇫🇷 Kima Ventures, a Paris-based venture capital firm, backed Dalma, a digital pet health insurance, and Barkibu, an online platform for pet health advice.
- 🇧🇪 Leap Venture Studio invested in two startups: Dogo, an app to train puppies at home, and Barkibu.
- 🇬🇧 Octopus Ventures invested in KatKin, a fresh pet food company, and ManyPets (formerly known as Bought by Many), a pet health insurance company in Britain.
- 🇬🇧 Passion Capital invested in Butternut Box, the UK’s fresh dog food delivery space, and Lassie, a digital pet insurance company from Sweden.
- 🇬🇧 Techstars invested in Fluffy, the UK’s pet insurer on a mission to tackle the pet cost crisis by creating fair pet insurance that supports and rewards responsible pet parents.
In addition to building your network through online communities, pet conferences happening around the world provide great opportunities for networking and learning about the latest trends and innovations in the pet industry. From Europe to the US to Asia and beyond, there are pet conferences happening in every part of the world.
Some notable ones in Europe include the Petcare Innovation Summit in Berlin, which showcases the latest innovations across Europe to drive partnerships and investment within pet care.
In the US, SuperZoo is a must-attend event for pet professionals of every stripe. If it’s happening in the pet industry, it’s happening at SuperZoo, where you can stock up on products, catch up with peers and suppliers, and discover management and e-commerce solutions to drive your business through 2023 and beyond. These conferences offer great opportunities to meet new people, learn from industry leaders, and stay up to date with the latest trends and technologies in the pet industry.
In conclusion, starting a pet tech company can be challenging, but it’s also incredibly rewarding. We’ve found that other startup founders in the pet industry are genuinely nice people who are working hard to make the lives of pets better and healthier. It’s a community of passionate people who are dedicated to making a difference.
At our company, Cooper Pet Care, we feel blessed to be doing what we love every day, helping pets and their owners live happier, healthier lives. We encourage anyone interested in the pet industry to pursue their dreams and join us in making a positive impact on the world of pets.
If you’re a pet startup founder seeking help, advice, or just wanting to chat with us, feel free to drop us a line. We’re always happy to connect and see how we can help out.
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