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Hard lessons learned (and shared) by product inventors

A simple solution to an age-old problem saves windows, blinds and curtains while keeping the cat happy. But WindowKitty’s getting “innovation to market” came with its own unique set of challenges.

A simple solution to an age-old problem saves windows, blinds and curtains while keeping the cat happy. But WindowKitty's getting “innovation to market” came with its own unique set of challenges.

Because it’s a cat’s life

If you’ve ever had a cat, you know that your pet feline is going to do whatever it wants, when it wants! This includes a fair amount of lying around watching particles of dust or similar activities. I’ve been trying to figure it out for the last 20 years or so and still don’t have an answer! I do know that the window sill is prime real estate for mine and many other cats, which is why WindowKitty is so attractive.

WindowKitty resolves all your worries by creating a protected crawlspace. Think of it as a ¾ tube that braces against the window and sits on the sill. You cat walks in, sits down and enjoys the view. Tabby can’t hurt the blinds. He/she can see out, but no one can see in. Your feline won’t sit on top of WindowKitty because it’s curved and he/she will slide off (awesome). You can check out way cool videos here and here to connect the dots.

Innovation is not easy

Good ideas are dime a dozen. Transitioning WindowKitty from concept to actual product took time, effort and resources.

According to Brian and Christina Martinez, the creators and patent holders of WindowKitty, “We needed a solution to the problem of sacrificing our privacy to maintain window blinds. We devised our first prototype out of a range hood vent and a long flute. When our cat jumped in immediately, we knew we were on to something.”

What did they learn as new entrepreneurs?

But that was only the beginning. In the founders’ own words below is a brief but insightful look at the challenges involved in developing WindowKitty that may guide your own way forward.

Money doesn’t always talk: “We did a national search for a manufacturer. We had money to start manufacturing and could not find any companies that wanted to take on our project. Our manufacturer found us through Kickstarter.”

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Chinese New Year: “It was surprising to us that all work stops for the Chinese New Year.  We’ve added this information to our plan so that we can maintain inventory around this time.”

Time: “It takes a very long time…”

“…From collaboration to design, from design to tooling, from tooling to production took us over two years.”

– “Shipping cargo internationally takes about three weeks (all the sudden the weather became very important!).  We had all of our products delivered to our house and again, time played a huge part.  We had 1.5 hours to unload 720 WindowKitty’s from the truck –or we would incur an hourly rate (we kept the kids home from school and they helped us unload!).”

Collateral: “From cars to life insurance [we used it] for collateral on a business loan. Even with great credit the business loan process was rigorous (and lengthy!)”

Buyer beware & pricey decisions: “We made the wrong decision and lost thousands.  We had the product designed with a firm that wowed us in the beginning but didn’t deliver in the end.  We had to pay a local designer to fix the designs.”

It’s a family affair: “When we started working on WindowKitty we weren’t both on board 100%.  It was a risk and very costly!  It took us a few months to both get on the same page.  We learned that we cannot be successful unless we were both 100% on board.”

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Hard work pays off

The idea of WindowKitty seems to have gelled, as the initial rollout was a success. But it doesn’t end there. Sustainability takes even more effort.

Let WindowKitty’s lessons in innovating guide your own path of innovation, and may your learning curve be shorter thanks to the founders sharing their insight!


Written By

Nearly three decades living and working all over the world as a radio and television broadcast journalist in the United States Air Force, Staff Writer, Gary Picariello is now retired from the military and is focused on his writing career.

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