9 VCs That Invest in the Pet Tech Market
Rivers of money have been flowing into the pet tech industry over the last few years.
The largest amounts have gone to the popular US dog-walking companies, Wag and Rover. In January 2018, Wag secured $300 million from Softbank and in May 2018, Rover landed $155 million from Menlo Partners. The Wag investment didn’t work out too well – at the end of 2019, Softbank sold its stake in Wag back to the company at a loss. The Rover investment seems to be performing better as Rover continues to expand both internationally and through new service offerings to existing customers.
Several pet tech companies received 8 figure investments in 2019: AutoPets, maker of the Litter-Robot smart kitty litter box raised $31 million; Scratchpay, a provider of payment plans for veterinary clinics, secured $65 million in Series B funding; Modern Animal raised $13.5 million to help disrupt the veterinary care market; ButterNut Box, a monthly dog food subscription company based in London received 15 million euros ($16.2 USD); PetDesk, provider of veterinary software received $12 million and The Farmer’s Dog, a fresh dog food delivery service, landed $39 million in a series B round.
The pet health and pet food categories received the most investment capital in 2019. Check out our pet tech transaction chart to see a complete list of investments.
The venture capital firms below are especially active investors in the pet tech space. While some of them are vertically focused on the pet industry, others are generalists who happen to have several portfolio companies in the pet niche.
1. Leap Ventures (Mars)
Leap Ventures is a partnership between Michelson Found Animals (MFA) and Kinship (a division of Mars Petcare) that provides seed funding and mentorship to pet care startups. MFA is a foundation dedicated to animal welfare created by billionaire Gary Michelson, who made his fortune inventing medical devices.
Leap has two programs: 1) an academy for early-stage entrepreneurs to learn about the pet industry and pitch their ideas and 2) a startup accelerator that provides seed capital and 12 weeks of guidance for selected pet companies. The accelerator, called the Leap Venture Studio, is supported by design, technology and branding experts from R/GA Ventures, a firm that specializes in helping startups.
R/GA ventures has invested in Smalls (Cat Food), Sniffspot (marketplace for outdoor spaces for pets), Wild Earth (pet food made from the Koji fungus), and CuidaMiMascota (pet sitters in Latin America)
2. Companion Fund (Mars)
The $100 million Companion Fund is another offshoot of Mars Petcare. Managed by Digitalis Ventures, a fund that specializes in human and animal health, portfolio companies include: Mollybox (pet food subscription service in China), Pawp (subscription box of pet supplements and vitamins), Petmedix (medicine for dogs & cats.)
3. 9 Square Ventures (Purina)
9 Square is a corporate venture arm of Nestle Purina PetCare that is on the lookout for startups in pet tech, pet services, animal health, pet food and manufacturing. Similar to Leap Ventures, 9 Square can offer partners an array of resources including business advice and brand development.
9 Square seeks out promising investments through the Purina Pet Care Innovation Prize, an annual competition that awards five early stage pet startups cash and entry into an accelerator Boot Camp to help them polish their business plan.
Past winners of the prize include FetchFind (training for pet care businesses), Puppod (smart pet toy), Obe (smart feeder), Barkly Pets (on-demand dog walking), Pupjoy, BasePaws, Bond Pet Foods (lab-created pet food) and PlayDate (smart pet toy.)
In early 2020, Purina announced that it will be creating Unleashed, an accelerator lab program to support startup innovation in the European pet market.
4. Lere Hippeau Ventures
NYC-based Lere Hippeau Ventures is also an active investor in the pet technology space. Although the firm has strong roots in the media industry, with its principals coming from The Huffington Post and Buzzfeed, the company doesn’t hesitate to put money into the pet niche.
5. Metamorphosis Partners
Metamorphosis is creating an ecosystem for pet startups similar to Leap and 9 Square. Their network includes a full service media agency and an incubation lab, along with in-house experts and advisers. The company is run by Brock Weatherup, a pet industry veteran who was previously with Petco following the acquisition of his startup PetCoach. He also founded Pet360, a pet-focused media company that was acquired by PetSmart.
Portfolio companies include Great Pet Care (pet health content), The Anxious Pet (pet anxiety products), Barkly Pets (dog walking platform) and Muttropolis (pet ecommerce.)
6. Dane Creek Capital
Canadian-based Dane Creek Capital bills itself as the pet industry’s merchant bank. The firm was founded in 2015 by Mark Warren and Glen Tennison, former CEO and CFO of pet insurance company PetHealth. PetHealth was acquired by Fairfax Holdings in 2014 for C$100 million in an all cash deal.
Dane Creeks invests in all aspects of the pet industry, not just pet tech companies. Their portfolio is heavy on pet food and pet treat businesses and includes food subscription company PetPlate.
7. Lab Lake Capital
Lab Lake Capital invests and acquires only pet-focused companies. The firm is led by pet industry veteran Andy Katz. Previously, Katz grew and sold a chain of retail pet stores in the northeast to Petco and also built and sold a business that wholesaled pet grooming supplies.
Lab Lake seeks to work with US-based companies that have EBITDA of $1 – $10 million and that manufacturer a pet product, provide a multiple-unit pet service or have a pet technology business.
8. Cabra VC
Cabra VC is a team of Russian-educated investors who focus on startups in the US and India. The firm has offices in Moscow, Mumbai and San Francisco.
The firm has invested in two pet tech companies: Petcube (pet camera) and Petnet (smart feeders.) Both of these startups manufacture hardware that uses AI to improve the lives of pets and their parents.
9. Pet Business Solutions (PBS)
Primarily a design and marketing agency focused on the pet space, PBS also provides business consulting and capital to select startups.
The company has worked with Figo pet insurance , Einstein Pet and Petzey pet care.