At AlleyWatch, we covered many fundings and launches of pet care startups, but most of these startups are focused on dogs and dog owners. Cat Person is a new brand that exclusively serves cat and cat parents, with their offering ranging from food products to well-designed cat essentials. Incubated in Harry’s Labs, Cat Person designs all of its products with the needs of cats and their owner in mind; not just repurposing something that was designed for a dog to make it fit a cat. For example, the company’s canopy bed suits cats’ physical needs (cats sleep better when protected under a cover) while seamlessly fitting into the owners’ design aesthetic.
AlleyWatch sat down with Cat Person CEO and Cofounder Jimmy Wu to learn more about Cat Person, its future plans, the experience being incubated at Harry’s Labs, and much, much more…
AlleyWatch: Tell us about the product or service that Cat Person offers.
Jimmy Wu, Cat Person: Cat Person is a new brand focused on putting cats and their people first. We are launching with a line of cat care essentials designed specifically for cats and cat persons in mind, including wet food, dry food, and treats that are delicious and healthy, with listed ingredients that are easy to understand. We are also launching a line of non-food products, such as beds and bowls, that are functional, well-designed and beautiful, meant to complement a modern home.
My cofounder Lambert Wang and I are both cat persons ourselves. Through caring for cats, we realized how great, but also how frustrating, the experience is. Most of the pet industry caters towards dogs, which seemed odd considering there are actually more cats than dogs in the US. Walking into a pet store always felt like walking into a dog store, with a small cat section tucked away in the back corner. Once you get there, the selection is limited and lackluster. And many of the products aren’t really designed for the needs or cats, or frankly, things we felt great about putting in our homes.
As cat persons, we felt ignored and overlooked. We thought we could do better – to offer products designed specifically for the unique needs of cats and their people. And, to make it easier for people to connect with their cats and actually make their lives better.
How is Cat Person different?
What makes us different is our specific focus on both cats and cat persons. When you think about pet stores, most are focused on pets in a broad sense. However, we are putting cats front and center and designing specifically for their needs. And not just the cat’s needs, but equally the needs of the cat parent.
An example would be our canopy bed. If you are looking for a bed for your cat today, you are probably ending up with a small-sized dog bed. It’s incredibly hard to find a bed designed for a cat. We built our canopy bed for the physical needs a cat has, whether it’s the shape in which they sleep, or the fact that they feel more protected under a cover. We’ve also designed the canopy bed for the needs of the cat parent, which a lot of the existing products on the market don’t address. With many of the products out there, you don’t feel great about displaying them in your home. Particularly if you are a modern cat parent and you have a modern aesthetic and decor.
What market does Cat Person target and how big is it?
We are on mission to redefine what it means to be a “cat person” and fill a major gap in the $75B+ pet market. Our cat person is, first and foremost, someone who cares tremendously for their cat – they see them as a member of their family – and they want to give their cat the best nutrition when it comes to food. Our cat person is also someone who cares about how their products work, both for their cats as well as themselves. And, people who are frankly frustrated with the confusing experience today of having to shop at multiple places for their cat’s essential needs. They want to care for their cat but just need a more convenient experience and way to do that.
What’s your business model?
We are launching initially via e-commerce. We are eager to understand what resonates with our customers, and what their needs are, and continue to build our pipeline based on that feedback. For our wet and dry food, they’ll be available through a subscription meal plan that’s fully customizable or customers can order them individually.
What’s the experience been like incubating this at Harry’s Labs?
My cofounder Lambert Wang was a Harry’s employee. As a foster cat parent, he personally saw how frustrating it could be to find the best products for cats and saw a huge opportunity to bring a better experience to cats and cat lovers. He shared that idea with Harry’s cofounder, Jeff Raider, who recognized that cats and cat parents were being underserved by existing brands and wanted to help Lambert do something about it. I came on board as a cofounder and fellow cat person, and Lambert and I built the team and business, with the support of Harry’s Labs. Harry’s has been incredibly successful at building a truly remarkable brand and business. We’ve benefited from their advice and experience and they’ve been a great partner in helping us think through how to build a successful, sustainable business.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
Right now, we are in our early stages. We are just launching this brand, and what’s important for us is to be able to get our products out there and get customer feedback on these products. Over time, our goal is to help provide a better experience for our customers and we’ll continue to listen to them to guide us on where to go next. But right now, we’re focused on how we get this brand off the ground.
We are just launching this brand, and what’s important for us is to be able to get our products out there and get customer feedback on these products. Over time, our goal is to help provide a better experience for our customers and we’ll continue to listen to them to guide us on where to go next. But right now, we’re focused on how we get this brand off the ground.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
We want to create a business that will be around for many, many years and have a broad impact on the cat people who are out there. We think there is s a huge need and opportunity, and we are here to make the lives of cats and cat people better. To do that, we’ll be focused on building a business that’s financially sound, offers innovative products for cat people, and delivers on their needs.
What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?
One of my favorite restaurants in New York has long been Charles Pan Fried Chicken in Harlem – it’s hard to turn down fried chicken and Charles is one of the best. These are unprecedented times for restaurants, however. With so many small businesses and service industry workers suffering from mandated closures, I’d encourage all New Yorkers to look for ways they can support their favorite shops. There are many ways you can help, from donating to the restaurant’s GoFundMe pages to purchasing gift cards for future redemption.
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