Cardboard as a manufacturing material is gaining popularity and is increasingly used in the manufacture of furniture. Pavel Sizov, along with his wife Oksana, also began to make cardboard furniture - not just for people, but for cats. For a month and a half of full-fledged work, the family company has already completed more than a hundred orders from pet lovers from Moscow and the regions.
How it all began
Pavel Sizov: I have a technical education - I graduated from the Moscow Institute of Electronic Technology with a degree in micro-devices and telecommunication systems engineer. My work experience is very versatile - since 16 years I have worked as a seller, as a purchaser, and as an assembler in production. I saw how the workflow is being built in various organizations. For four years now I have been working as a manager in a large company that distributes electronics. My responsibilities are related to managing work processes and managing people - these skills help me in developing my business.
I always wanted to produce something: it’s great to hold in your hands what was once only in your head. So a year ago, my wife and I decided to make cardboard houses for cats. My wife saw something similar on foreign sites, but in no case do we copy Western analogues - we just took the idea of cardboard houses as a basis.
Pavel and Oksana Sizov
founders of Cat Home
Launch Date: June 2014
Start Budget: 20 000 rubles
Turnover: 330 000 rubles
Field of activity: production of cardboard goods for cats
It seemed to us that this is interesting, because, in fact, this material was chosen not by us, but by cats: they like to sit in cardboard boxes, nibble, bite, scratch cardboards.
We decided to make houses in the form of a hemisphere. I figured out how to make a house, what parts are needed, ordered cardboard and tried to make it myself. It turned out not what we needed: it was not the hemisphere that came out, but an incomprehensible flattened figure. At the same time, it took four hours to glue the pilot copy, which immediately indicated the impossibility of further mass production: without quitting my main job, I could make a maximum of two such houses a day, and their price would accordingly be cosmic for such a product. Therefore, I decided to leave this idea for a while and for a year I was not engaged in its implementation.
When we got a cat, we ourselves were faced with the problem of choosing a good house for it - in stores even poor-quality synthetic Chinese products cost more than one thousand rubles, although there is nothing original in them. Therefore, a month and a half ago, I decided to return to our idea.
This time I approached the matter more seriously: I carefully calculated the number of necessary parts and their sizes to get the desired shape. I began to understand various types of cardboard and their features, for a long time I chose materials suitable for the manufacture of our goods, and at the same time I read many books on production.
We have no competitors - similar in Russia no one doesn't do
It was necessary not only to calculate all this at a theoretical level, but also to find out where to order the right cardboard, how to cut out the necessary parts from it for assembly, decide how to reduce the time for gluing the parts, think over the packaging of finished goods and logistics.
By trial, error and calculation, we settled on a seven-layer cardboard, the suppliers of which turned out to be extremely difficult to find - almost no one produces here. Now we order cardboard in Istra, 100 sheets per month. Then they deliver it to a company that cuts it: I draw details, and workers on a special machine cut them out of cardboard blocks ordered earlier.
Parts cut in the form of circles of different radii are brought to our home, where I collect them. One house is 26 layers and 28 snap elements. They overlap and stick together.
We tried different brands of glue and settled on German. It is also important for us that the houses are environmentally friendly, so we asked the manufacturer for certificates confirming that the adhesive meets the established standards - it is safe for both people and cats. In addition, the glue is at a depth of about one and a half centimeters, and even if the cat starts to tear the house, it is unlikely to get to it.
To glue the parts evenly, you need to ensure that they are equally centered. To do this, I bought equipment on the construction market for 500 rubles and with it I glue the parts at the same distance from the center. Now I collect one product in ten minutes.
The result is a spherical cardboard house, tough and reliable. For example, I can stand on it, and it will not bend under my 80 kilograms, thanks to a seven-layer cardboard.
Promotion and market
In the process of working on the project, I learned how to make websites, promote them, run social networks, use contextual advertising, and mastered vector and raster image editors. It helps me in business and eliminates the need to attract other people. For a month and a half, we sold about a hundred of these houses. We don’t have a website yet, all orders go through social networks - Instagram and VKontakte, and word of mouth starts working.
We have no competitors - no one does this in Russia. You can bring the Dutch manufacturer as a competitor, but in terms of rubles, the cost of one house will be 3,200 rubles, excluding delivery. If you choose a Japanese manufacturer, you will have to pay at least 4,200 rubles. Therefore, it is difficult to even consider them competitors. In addition, I do not think that someone in the Russian market will decide to do something exactly the same.
During the work, our turnover amounted to about 330 thousand rubles, but it is too early to talk about profit: we invest everything in further production and advertising. I plan that in six months our net profit will be about 300 thousand rubles. This indicator is very easy to achieve: it is only ten houses a day, that is, one hundred minutes of work.
The cost of materials for the first samples amounted to about 20 thousand rubles. These are personal savings - naturally, no financial support from the outside was needed. Now the cost of one house is 1,500 rubles, and the recommended price is 1,990 rubles. We understand that this is expensive, and we plan to reduce the price for buyers to 1,500 rubles.
People think that cardboard is a cheap material, because it is used to make boxes and all sorts of rubbish that they throw right away. This is actually not the case. The cost of cardboard for one house (excluding taxes, expenses for assembly and cutting) is about 300 rubles.
One of our main problems now -
this finding ways to reduce cost price
The most expensive stage of our production is the cutting of cardboard sheets: 860 rubles per house (for cutting they take about 20 rubles per meter, and in the house 43 meters). It costs 4 thousand rubles for logistics, and also 200 rubles for a packing box for a finished house among spending. For targeted advertising, it costs about 100 rubles per house.
One of our main problems now is the search for ways to reduce costs. A cardboard company doesn’t cut it - we have to spend twice on logistics, and the cardboard is not delivered to me right away. I am also unhappy with the work of the company, which cuts cardboard parts: their pricing policy for services is extremely opaque, I can’t get information about the exact cost of cutting by meters. They constantly change it, try to weld, first ask for the amount of necessary parts and only then call the price for them. Another company has not yet been found. You can, of course, buy the cutting unit yourself - it costs about 1.6 million rubles. But so far, it seems to me, this makes no sense: it is not entirely clear how things will go further.
There was also another big problem that we encountered in the manufacturing process. We found that each batch of cardboard is different in thickness from the previous one, and every millimeter is important for the details of houses. It was necessary to draw new details for each order, which was not possible. It was necessary to optimize the production process, so that regardless of the thickness of the cardboard houses always turned out to be the same. And we came up with one trick that we are not telling anyone about yet.
Cat Home is now a modest family business. But I want that in the future the place of production was not our apartment, but a separate room where the houses would be assembled by several employees. We also plan to expand the assortment and start producing claws and toys. But while we are working on the appearance of the houses: we want to produce them in different forms, perhaps experimenting with colors.
We are also trying to resolve the issue with the delivery of goods to several pet stores. As a rule, such things sell better offline, because a potential buyer has the opportunity to directly see and evaluate the product before buying.
Text: Anastasia Chernykh
Photo: Polina Kirilenko