Gato Cafe, a cat cafe where customers can eat, drink and play with cats, entered the <em>Shark Tank on May 15th.
Heavy interviewed owner Adriana Montano who believes that every cat deserves “love, companionship and cage-free lives.” In the Shark Tank audition video, shown above, she asks for $100,000 for 15 percent of her company. Here is what she told us about her business aspirations and appearance on the show.
1. Adriana Was Inspired By a Cat Cafe in Japan
When Montano was working for a non-profit in Washington DC called Alley Cat Allies, her boss found an article about cat cafes in Japan. This sparked her interest in the concept, and ever since then, she’s been hooked.
Recently, she sent her another article, this time about a pop-up cat cafe in New York. “I love all animals and I thought that it was a great idea to bring a cat café to the US. Who knows? Maybe in the future there could be other kinds of pet cafes. Not everyone can afford to have a pet or can have a pet all together and this would be a great way for them to participate in the experience,” she said.
2. It’s a Husband-Wife Team
Her husband, Michael, whose work ethic she said is “unparallel,” shares Montano’s love of animals and used to volunteer at the Nebraska Humane Society. Unfortunately, he was unable to enter the Tank because he was in Advance Individual Training for the Army National Guard. However, he has always been by her side and supported her venture. “Michael has been a great support and rock in the process,” she said.
The couple, who met at work, are uniting in the common goal of the cat cafe. “I don’t like working with lazy people, I think everyone can agree with that. He is such a hard worker. We need more people like him in the workforce,” she gushed about her spouse.
When asked about the pros to working with her husband are, she said:
I get an honest opinion and real feedback on everything…So we respect each other professionally and personally. We saw each other as equals from the very beginning.
3. They Can Only Serve Packaged Food
Since Montano has a culinary background, she planned to serve hot foods that were cooked in the cafe. However, she quickly learned that in Florida, you cannot make any food in a restaurant housing animals.
As an alternative, she decided to buy prepackaged foods and drinks and have it catered into the cafe. She hopes to have cold food, such as sandwiches, for customers. All kinds of beverages such as coffee, tea and sodas, will also be available for purchase.
The cafe would be the first one in Florida, a state that Montano says is “so large and diverse.” “I love hearing all different languages around me wherever you go. To me the more diverse the area, the more creativity, the more ideas, the more you learn from one another,” she said about the advantages to launching a business in The Sunshine State.
4. All Cats Will Be Up For Adoption
Cat Cafe will serve as a foster home for the furry pets. The Broward County Humane Society is very interested in the idea and support their effort in Florida.
“I believe in saving and helping cats find good homes. A lot of times I feel like cats are very much misunderstood, kind of like Severus Snape,” she said. “Once you get to spend time with them, and truly get to know them, you will love them. Always.”
Therefore, she was elated when she was contacted about appearing on Shark Tank. When asked about her time on the show, she said:
It was an experience that I wouldn’t change for the anything in the world. I met such wonderful people. It was such a cool and fulfilling experience. I am not going to lie it was nerve racking. It is not easy being in front of a lot of people pouring your heart and passion out especially since they are going to be judging if it is worth it or not.
5. They Started a 2nd Indiegogo Campaign
Their first campaign, which was closed in July of 2014, only raised $1,210 from 24 people. When asked about this initial experience, she said, “When we launched our campaign last year we expected to raise more funds, however, we got a lot of emails and messages supporting us, which made me believe that Florida is ready for a cat cafe.”
They are now starting another crowdsourcing campaign, which can be found here. The entrepreneur hopes to raise $75,000 in 60 days. The funds garnered will be used for things like location fees, taxes, supplies, electric bills, Wi-Fi and a Point of Sale system. This time around, they’ve explained on the site that they’ve partnered with Broward County Humane Society.