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KittyPits: Cat furniture trend

Cats love cardboard boxes, cat owners less. The cardboards are in the way and doesn’t look particularly pretty. KittyPits, a young start-up from Frankfurt am Main, offers the solution: a modular toy house that makes people and animals equally happy. Those who joined Startup Weekend Mittelhessen or Open Coffee Club will remember this project. We are pleased to provide a deep-dive into a project that we become fans off.

Moving boxes, shipping packages, shoe boxes — cats love cardboard packaging, no matter what it looks like or what purpose it serves. They are suitable for jumping up, crawling in, hiding.

You could think of a cheap cat toy. However, these boxes are not that robust and break quickly. In addition, they don’t look very appealing. What is an exciting toy for the cat often feels like rubbish lying around in the way of the owner.

This inspired Joshua Becker (26) to found his own start-up KittyPits in November this year.

KittyPits makes modular cat houses from high-quality cardboard boxes. The individual parts can be assembled quickly and easily and put together in ever new variations. The system is similar to a Lego kit, only for cats.

In the home office with the cat Lui

Cats want to be busy — Joshua, cat owner and banker from Frankfurt am Main knows this challenge too. When his employer sent him to the home office for three months as part of the first Corona lockdown, he was with his cat Lui all day.

Joshua: “He always wanted entertainment and variety and he barely left me alone to concentrate on work. So I just ordered lots of new cat toys online. And then exactly what my slogan is today happened: What do cats look forward to the most when you order them something? Right — on the cardboard box! Because cats love cardboard boxes! ”The cat toy itself is of secondary importance.

So Joshua fulfills his cat’s wish. However, the first building attempts were not comparable with today’s product. Joshua uses scissors and tape to build a castle by hand from cardboard boxes from various online mail-order companies. Lui was thrilled, but his roommates — Joshua and his girlfriend Lara Müller (26) — didn’t like the look at all.

Then the idea matured in them to design something out of cardboard that would appeal to both animals and humans. We wanted to create a fun and retreat for cats that looks like a piece of cat furniture, but is still made of cardboard and offers the cat variety.

Joshua didn’t let go of the thought. In May he took a free online course on entrepreneurship at Harvard University. He wrote a business plan for his idea for the first time and researching the market — cats live in almost every fourth household in Germany, that is around 9.5 million households.

Prototype development with Hessian know-how

After the workshop, Joshua went looking for a cardboard manufacturer to build a prototype. “It wasn’t always easy phone calls when I started my cat house idea,” says Joshua. But after many rejections, he finally found OTT + SOHN GmbH (www.ott-verpackung.de), a manufacturer in Obertshausen, Hesse, who recognized the potential, believed in the idea, and invested in product development.

Joshua is happy about the cooperation: “It is important to me to produce regionally. On the one hand, KittyPits should stand for sustainability, on the other hand, I would like to have a contact person on site. ”And he has that. From day one there is a close exchange with the development team. Joshua visits the factory on-site and learns a lot from the experts — about cardboard, different material thicknesses, and plug-in systems, such as magnets, cardboard flaps, and Velcro.

The results of their own market survey, carried out with 120 participants, including acquaintances, their contacts and people from cat internet forums, also flow into the prototype development. The feedback from the cat Lui is also relevant. He tests every prototype and decides on its entertainment value. His official working title in the start-up is therefore also “Chief Experience Officer”.

More stable, more beautiful, faster to set up

The fifth prototype is now ready — and the product development is now complete. KittyPits meets the demands of the Frankfurt founder and the four-legged product tester.

First: KittyPits houses have an attractive design.

Second: The cardboard used is stable — cats up to 9 kilos can sit in it, run or jump onto the house with a running run.

Third: The modular connector system is user-friendly. It can be quickly dismantled and rebuilt again and again. In this way, variety comes into the cat’s game.

The product is also completely recyclable, as cardboard flaps serve as connecting pieces between the individual parts.

Award-winning at the Startup Weekend Mittelhessen 2020

Freshly after the completion of the final prototype, Joshua took the public stage for the first time. At the beginning of November he takes part in the Startup Weekend Mittelhessen (SWMH), which is organized by the Central Hesse Regional Management in Giessen. Over the weekend, he was coached by experienced mentors from the start-up scene and receive feedback from experts, for example on the subject of marketing. On the final day, he pitched his business project in front of a top-class jury and won the 3rd place.

Joshua about his experiences at the SWMH: “At the event, I had the opportunity to present my idea to a larger audience for the first time and was able to test whether it was well-received. I was also able to make many contacts with mentors who gave me very valuable input and a new perspective. Among other things, we discussed design rights so that I now know how to protect my product and my logo from being simply copied. I can only recommend the event to all those interested in founding a company in the region. “

Family-run start-up
The hobby turned into a serious side project within seven months. Joshua no longer builds the start-up as an individual. He gets reinforcements from the family: Father Melvyn Becker (56) takes care of storage and shipping. He is an entrepreneur himself and has been running a retail store for auto parts for more than 30 years. The girlfriend Lara is in charge of marketing and is currently building a community in social media.

Everything is being prepared for the next big milestone: KittyPits will open its online shop in early 2021. For the first time it will be possible to purchase two different sets from the young start-up.

The “Explore” set (4 cubes, 1 tunnel, 1 ramp) primarily appeals to the cats’ instinct to play, the “Chill” set (4 cubes, 1 bridge, 1 basket) invites you to relax and sleep. Both products are priced below 40 euros.
The money is well spent. In the long term, other toy purchases can be saved. In addition, it is practically guaranteed that the cat will play with the KittyPits house. Because cats love cardboard boxes — this is not only proven by studies, but also by the cat Lui.

More information, pictures, and videos as well as pre-orders for KittyPits at:
Mail: joshua@kittypits.de
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kitty.pits/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KittyPits2020
Online shop: https://www.kittypits.de will be only published and available in January 2021

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