Kickstarter might seem like an odd platform to raise money for a café. But Crumbs & Whiskers is not just any café. It’s a cat café.
And founder Kanchan Singh, a 24-year-old who took a break from her management consultant job after a quarter-life crisis, is not your typical entrepreneur, either.
Since November she’s been very open about the evolution of her project, which has been received like catnip by multiple local news outlets. She went public before obtaining final approval from the D.C. Department of Health and at this stage, she’s still “ironing out” the lease terms for a Georgetown space, as she told Technical.ly DC.
That’s because before attempting to crowdfund the café — the Kickstarter launch party will be held this Sunday, March 1 at 1:00 p.m. at Penn Social — she wanted to crowdsource lots of feedback from future users.
For her, the “model of the entrepreneur” who crafts their product in the dark and then “take[s] it out on the world” is flawed. Instead, she conceived of the café as “the work in progress, not just sharing the finished product.”
Through a modest landing page, she built up a rapid following of future users, and decided to “use them as like a bouncing board of ideas,” she said. Singh cultivated them by throwing them special perks through the Gentlemeows’ Club. (Sorry, latecomers: membership closed Feb. 8.)
As a result, Singh has been rather flexible with her business model. She is even reconsidering the “crumbs” part of “Crumbs & Whiskers,” based on user feedback and an honest appraisal of the costs of building and maintain a café. After all, she pointed out, “we really just care about the cats.”
She’ll be raising $15,000 through the soon-to-launch Kickstarter campaign, to pay for the space and construct a double barrier system to block runaway cats. “Kickstarter for a brick-and-mortar space is really interesting,” she said. Whereas most campaigns ship anywhere in the U.S., Singh has had to focus on “very local catering.”
Singh hopes to open up Crumbs & Whiskers this summer in Georgetown. “The character of the neighborhood just fits very well with the character of this cat café,” she said. She’s currently envisioning a cover charge to hang out with cute cats; food and drink offerings TBD.
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