Crowdfunding has taken two Sydney entrepreneurs to new, furrier frontiers.
Catmosphere – the city's first space-themed catcafé, where feline lovers can mix "catpuccinos" with cuddles– was launched in late July after co-founders Thomas Derricottand Wenee Yap raised 40,666 Australian dollars ($29,200) oncrowdfunding platform Indiegogo. The amount was well above theirinitial target of A$35,000.
"There are a few reasons we gravitated towards crowdfunding," Derricott told CNBC. "Firstly, we weren't independently wealthy so we did need a bit of leg up. But more importantly we found that by launching a crowdfunding campaign, we were able to prove the concept before launching."
The project's donors were given a choice of perks based on the size of the contribution – from a Catmosphere tee for A$30 to the option of naming one of the cats for A$1,000.
Sydney's Catmosphere, which is a franchise of a Thailand-based café, houses foster cats and helps them socialize before they are offered for adoption.
Many of the cats are named after prominent figures in space history or characters in sci-fi films. Take for example, Neil Pawstrong, "the first cat on the moon."
"We're very lucky to host a range of cats from all across the galaxy," Derricott said.
Derricott says while he'd like to take Catmosphere to other cities in the future, he's unsure whether the expansion would be funded through a fresh crowdfunding campaign.
"We were the first group of people to really publicly announce that we wanted to open a cat café in Sydney – and there's a lot of novelty and excitement around that," he said. "So if we were to do it again, it would need to be in another city or we'd need to have something really interesting to offer."
He described his experience with crowdfunding as being both terrifying and rewarding.
"You find for the first couple of weeks of the crowdfunding campaign you attract a lot of support and then it trickles [down] for a little while, and in the final week or two your hit with this tidal wave of support and then you manage to scoot across the finish line."