Nearly half of all cats that enter shelters in the U.S. are euthanized due to a lack of space resulting in almost 900,000 cats being killed every year. While shelters work tirelessly to save lives, many cats struggle to find forever homes due to a lack of public exposure and the stressful nature of adoption events for cats.
Our mission is to completely revolutionize the cat adoption experience by providing shelter cats with an enriching environment that helps their socialization and interaction with people.
Our business model is thoughtfully designed to generate revenue from several sources- patrons reserving a spot in our cat lounge, coffee shop sales and, commissions earned by allowing local artist a place to showcase and sell artwork. Our ultimate goal is to donate 100% of adoption fees to local animal shelters.
We’ve created a welcoming and therapeutic environment that attracts a diverse range of customers beyond just cat lovers and adopters.
USE OF FUNDS
20% New Product Development
What inspired you to start this business?
Hadyn Hilton discovered the cat café concept while conducting research for a class at Georgia State. Fueled by her passion for cats and her desire to help reduce the number of euthanized cats in shelters, she set out to create a unique business that could make a real difference. In 2017, she founded Java Cats to provide a space where people could enjoy locally roasted coffee, an uplifting community, and the company of adoptable cats.
How did you meet your co-founder?
Zoe Hughes-Nelson’s relationship with this business began at 15 years old, working as a volunteer until she was officially hired at 16. When the pandemic hit and our team had to be laid off due to financial strain, she stepped up to help Hadyn run the cafe. She didn’t want Hadyn to shoulder the burden alone, so she learned everything she could about the business and worked closely alongside her. This experience strengthened Hadyn and Zoe’s bond and relationship, and now at 21 years old, Zoe is proud to be a co-owner of Java Cats.
What advice can you offer to entrepreneurs?
Most of entrepreneurship is just guesswork. It is important to have your estimations and projections in your business plan as a worst-case scenario, best case scenario, and everything in between so that you know what to expect. The last thing you want is for your business to expect to make a certain amount of money that it isn’t.
What are your long-term goals for the company?
Our long-term goal is to generate enough revenue to become a cat cafe again in the future as the pandemic caused the original Java Cats to close in 2022. We are operating as a coffee counter without cats inside a market called O4W Market. We hope to stay business partners and work together for life, as we care about each other immensely and also care about the well-being of cats. We would love the ability to purchase a building for our next location and eliminate the worry about rent. We would also love to have an onsite veterinarian who can help maintain the health of the cats and provide aid when they feel unwell. We would like to work and partner with other small businesses to promote the idea of supporting local minority businesses. Once all of that is working seamlessly, we’d love to have a food truck to continue spreading Java Cat love and generating revenue all across Atlanta. Ultimately, we hope to make enough money to live comfortably while helping others.
How has your formal education and experiences at Georgia State played a role in your becoming an entrepreneur?
Hadyn was studying film at Georgia State University and learned about the concept of a cat cafe during a research project. If it wasn’t for the project that helped her discover the concept of a cat cafe, Java Cats would not exist. Zoe started as a volunteer at Java Cats during high school. Her experience working with Hadyn and the cats inspired her to pursue a business degree at Georgia State University where she is currently studying entrepreneurship.
Was there a moment when you wanted to quit entrepreneurship?
When the first Java Cats closed in 2022, both Hadyn and Zoe were left feeling defeated. We were denied both rounds of PPP funding which could have saved our business. The added financial stressors of the pandemic and gentrification were discouraging. The building we were renting was sold and the new landlords increased our rent from $2,500 to $10,000 a month. We were completely out of funds and did not see a future for Java Cats. A man who adopted a cat from us reached out after we closed and asked us if we wanted to open a coffee counter inside the market he owned. At first, we felt unsure and worried, but eventually, we chose to go through with it and are now hoping to raise enough money to become a cat cafe again.