WHEN an Aberdeen oil worker decided to quit her 9-5 office job to open up the city’s first cat cafe, her friends and family didn’t take her seriously.
Heather Lynch, 26, decided to quit her job as a document controller with an oil firm just as the industry downturn was beginning to take its toll on Aberdeen.
After convincing her family that the idea could work, she set up a successful crowdfunding campaign which eventually raised £5,000 with the help of 168 backers.
Heather said: “We started the crowdfunder as we needed to test the waters with Aberdeen. Trying to get the right people to take me seriously was really hard at first, so the plan was to test the idea and see if Aberdeen liked it.
“Lots of people assumed that men wouldn’t be interested in the business but during our campaign, two men took us up on the £1,000 donation package to become lifetime members of the cafe.”
The anonymous crowdfunders made use of the ‘Join the Family’ perk on Heather’s Indiegogo page, which includes unlimited access to the cafe amongst other benefits.
Now the owner of a two-month-old thriving business, Heather is happy that her decision to open The Cat in the Window Cafe - which took a lot of self-belief and support from those around her - has paid off.
The Cat in the Window Cafe on Aberdeen’s Netherkirkgate offers the chance for cat lovers to experience furry companionship alongside a range of hot drinks and sweet treats.
Her start-up ambitions became reality after the crowdfunded money, a financial contribution from the Princes Trust and a loan were all added together.
By the time the fundraising page closed in October last year, Heather’s business idea demanded her attention on a full-time basis.
Money raised from the Indiegogo website was used to fit out the cafe with tunnels, scratching posts, bridges and bookshelves for the cats to climb on and use.
“It took that little bit of effort from the community to get where we are today”, Heather added.
Visitors to the cafe use an online booking system to reserve a one-hour slot with the eight resident cats, with a maximum of 20 people per session.
Although the cafe’s vibe is one of relaxation and fun, there are a few ground rules to observe for the comfort of the cats - such as the mandatory use of slippers or shoe covers in the cafe itself.
Heather routinely takes some of the cats home to look after them when they’re not in their sleeping quarters in the cafe, adding that her husband often pitches in to make the cats as comfortable as possible.
She added: “People have been really excited about this idea, as it’s something completely different for Aberdeen. I think the city has benefited from an increase in the number of unusual businesses being opened, such as ourselves and Melt [a grilled cheese sandwich takeaway on the city’s Holburn Street].”
So what advice does Heather have for those looking to crowdfund their own entrepreneurial projects?
“I am very emotionally attached to this business. You really have to have a lot of belief in what you’re doing. If you have any doubt at all, then other people are not going to believe in your idea,” she said.
“If I had not believed that a cat cafe could really work in Aberdeen, then I would have fallen at the first hurdle - you need to give it 110 per cent.”
You can find out more about The Cat in the Window Cafe by visiting the cafe website.