Women-Owned DIG Labs Poised to Launch Pet Health Technology
DIG Labs Co-Founders Tara Zedayko (left) and Jessica Chu created their pet health technology company to improve the lives of pets all over the world.
TRENTON (October 16, 2020) – Healthcare executives-turned-entrepreneurs Tara Zedayko and Jessica Chu co-founded pet health technology startup Bark Biome, which does business as DIG Labs, armed with a background in life sciences, a passion for helping their canine companions, and a mission to improve the lives of pets all over the world. Today, the Princeton-based company is nearing the launch of its first app and crediting support from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) with helping to reach this milestone.
DIG Labs, which was established last year, markets, manufactures and sells personalized canine supplements. The company’s new app, which is set to go live in November, will offer contactless assessment and tracking of a dog’s internal health in real time, starting with a single photo. The app will allow pet parents to collect, analyze, and translate insights into actionable health plans.
Earlier this year, DIG Labs became one of the first businesses to benefit from the expanded Angel Investor Tax Program, after Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation last summer enhancing the program. Beginning January 1, 2020, investors have been able to receive a 20 percent tax credit (up from 10 percent) on eligible investments and an additional five percent bonus for investments made in a business located in a qualified opportunity zone, low-income community, or a business that is certified by the State as minority- or women-owned. DIG Labs was the first woman- and minority-owned business to benefit from the new criteria.
“Governor Murphy has made a strong commitment to transforming New Jersey’s innovation ecosystem into the most diverse and inclusive one in the nation and the enhanced Angel Investor Tax Credit Program is an important and dynamic tool that will help to achieve this goal,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “Changes made to the program have been lauded by the investor and startup communities alike and are beginning to impact the ways that companies like DIG Labs attract funding.”
Sullivan noted that investors have six months from the time of investment to apply to the Angel Investor Tax Credit Program. The deadline to apply for consideration of a 2020 Tax Credit is November 1, 2020. All qualified applications received after that date, as long as it is within of the six months from the investment date, will be considered for a 2021 tax credit.
Zedayko and Chu set up DIG Labs’ operations at Princeton Innovation Center Biolabs in Princeton with support the NJEDA’s NJ Ignite program. NJ Ignite helps technology and life sciences startups realize the benefits of collaborative workspaces by providing up to nine months of rent support for startup technology and life sciences businesses that are moving to an approved collaborative workspace. The funding is made possible through a combination of support from the NJEDA and the collaborative workspace. To date, a total of 20 collaborative workspaces have been approved to participate in the program. Situated three miles from Princeton University, Princeton Innovation Center Biolabs offers 31,000 square feet of shared wet- and dry-labs as well as private and coworking office space.
“As women in a traditionally male-dominated system, finding access to the capital we need to grow DIG Labs has been frustrating at times,” said Zedayko, who is DIG Labs CEO. “However, the support and encouragement we have received from the NJEDA, and in fact New Jersey’s innovation ecosystem as a whole, has been tremendous in helping us address and overcome these challenges. We are encouraged to see the focus Governor Murphy and First Lady Tammy Murphy are placing on spurring opportunities for female entrepreneurs like us.”
DIG Labs was introduced to the NJEDA last year at Propelify, an annual event hosted by TechUnited NJ to showcase New Jersey’s synergistic innovation ecosystem. The event also fosters opportunities for entrepreneurs like Zedayko and Chu to connect with resources they need to grow and thrive in the Garden State.
Zedayko has focused a large part of her career on bolstering opportunities for girls and women in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. She spent several years at the helm of Johnson & Johnson’s Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Board. WISE is considered a precursor to Johnson & Johnson’s current Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, Manufacturing and Design program, which was created to empower women in STEM. Zedayko also spent the earlier part of her career as corporate team leader for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST), a global robotics community that cultivates the technical and leadership talents of young people for the future. She is also an active mentor with Built By Girls, to help prepare the next generation of female leaders, builders, and creators to step boldly into careers powered by technology. Chu is an active member of the dog rescue community, serving as a volunteer, transporter, and flight chaperone. She has personally fostered and prepared almost 50 homeless dogs for their forever families in the tri-state area, including Jersey City’s See Spot Rescued. In addition to her passion for animal welfare, Chu’s prior outreach has focused on mentoring and tutoring for underserved youth.
About the New Jersey Economic Development Authority
The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) serves as the State’s principal agency for driving economic growth. The NJEDA is committed to making New Jersey a national model for inclusive and sustainable economic development by focusing on key strategies to help build strong and dynamic communities, create good jobs for New Jersey residents, and provide pathways to a stronger and fairer economy. Through partnerships with a diverse range of stakeholders, the NJEDA creates and implements initiatives to enhance the economic vitality and quality of life in the State and strengthen New Jersey’s long-term economic competitiveness.
To learn more about state resources available to New Jersey entrepreneurs and early-stage companies, visit https://www.njeda.gov/tls or follow @NewJerseyEDA on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.
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