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St. Louis pet nutrition startup snags spot in global accelerator, raises $800K

“The program is an amazing opportunity to be in an ecosystem of people who really just think about the pet market"
Credit: SLBJ

ST. LOUIS — A St. Louis-based pet food and nutrition startup is one of seven companies selected globally to participate in an accelerator program exclusively focused on the pet industry.

Native Pet, which has operations in St. Louis and Detroit, is taking part in Leap Venture Studio, a 12-week startup accelerator. The Los Angeles-based program is a joint venture of Kinship, a business division of Mars Petcare; animal welfare nonprofit Michelson Found Animals Foundation; and R/GA Ventures, part of advertising firm R/GA.

“The program is an amazing opportunity to be in an ecosystem of people who really just think about the pet market. It’s an unbelievably diverse and talented group of people, across the three different organizations that put it on,” said Native Pet co-founder and CEO Dan Schaefer.

Schaefer and co-founder and Chief Operating Officer Pat Barron, both St. Louis natives and graduates of De Smet Jesuit High School, launched Native Pet in 2017. The company sells organic, limited-ingredient pet supplements and treats.

Native Pet’s origins stem from a struggle to find healthy, all-natural food options for pets, Schaefer said. After he and his wife became dog owners, Schaefer said he found himself “blown away” with statistics detailing declining pet health. Native Pet says its pet supplements and treats are designed to boost animal health and wellness.

Native Pet, which has an office in the Cortex district, said it has had more than 20,000 customers since its founding and has topped $1 million in overall sales. The startup is now looking to expand further. Its participation in the Leap Venture Studio accelerator comes with a $200,000 investment, allowing the Native Pet to reach its seed funding total of $800,000.

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