How the Shru Kickstarter Team Conquered the Cat Toy Market

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Previously known as Egg, Shru, an intelligent companion for cats, was a runaway success during its Kickstarter campaign last year. Its focus on being a clever toy that can respond to your cat’s movements really captured backers’ imaginations, with features such as automatic obstacle detection meaning your pet could never get bored of the unit.

Such popularity isn’t overly surprising given the potential lack of competition on the market. Cats love toys that move about at speed, which is why things like Cat’s Meow are a hit, but their human companions yearn for more interesting and technologically-advanced gadgets for their fluffy friends. In recent times, you’ve been able to buy a superior laser toy such as the Dart Automatic Pet Laser Toy, but it still seems fairly old fashioned in nature. In fact, the nearest rival to Shru is Kittyo, a toy that allows you to play with your cat, even when you’re not home. It offers the benefits of recording features and allows you to dispense treats to your kitty. In terms of toys that you can play with alongside your cat, and in a more reasonable price range (Kittyo is $249, while Shru is $79), Shru still has the market neatly tied up so far.

That’s precisely how the inspiration for Shru came about. “We have three cats ourselves and we both work outside of the home during the day. The cats were so needy each day when we got home and sometimes we were just too tired to play with them.” explained Tara O’Mara, co-founder of Shru, who developed the product with her husband, Jason O’Mara. “We thought “There has to be a better cat toy that will truly entertain the cats while we’re out so they’re not so needy!” And the idea of Shru was born. “We wanted to create a toy that would truly be your cat’s new best friend, and not a toy they would quickly tire of.” Shru offers multiple play modes, so in theory, your cat will never get bored of it.

Since Shru’s Kickstarter campaign was successfully funded, it’s been a somewhat rocky development process. While initial backers were given an original estimated delivery date of June 2014, the campaign took off and was much more successful than anticipated.

“Hindsight is 20/20!…We were hoping/planning to manufacture just 500 of these (our original goal) and so we had one particular production process worked out. When the project took off (with 4500 backers), we had to switch gears and quickly learn about production on a grander scale, which came with its own set of challenges. We’ve managed to navigate those waters relatively smoothly, but it did force us into a delay in our delivery timeline.”

As Tara explained to us, Shrus are currently in production in China with the first shipment set to arrive in the US in a matter of weeks. Setbacks haven’t dissuaded the team though. “Once those orders are fulfilled, we’re going to look at launching another crowdsourced Shru campaign with some new features, and we’re also going to continue working on another amazing cat toy we have up our sleeves.”

That makes sense given the cat toy market still seems to be fairly set in the past, which is no fun at all for the technology enthusiast, right?

Oh, and in case anyone was wondering, the gadget’s name was changed to Shru to be a play on words with rodents or shrews, to capture the toy’s ability to mimic a small animal.

Hopefully cats in the near future will enjoy the experience of playing with a Shru, with none of the blood and mess of an actual shrew. If you’re interested in pre-ordering a Shru, you can do so through the official site for $79.

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