Alice inspired by her cat Cleo for Pocket Money Pitch business idea

Alice Habermehl with her Pet Box
Alice Habermehl with her Pet Box

A schoolgirl has been competing in a national competition to find young business talent.

Alice Habermehl, aged 12, pitched her idea to create and sell affordable cardboard pet beds to the BBC’s new show, Pocket Money Pitch, and reached the finals.

Alice Habermehl, creator of the pet box, at the factory where they are manufacturered.

Alice Habermehl, creator of the pet box, at the factory where they are manufacturered.

She hit on the business idea thanks to her own cat Cleo, who refused to sleep in a luxury bed bought for her. Alice, a Bedford Modern School pupil, applied to be part of the show last summer when the BBC started its search.

After several selection stages, Alice was chosen to pitch her business idea in a Dragons Den-style pitch to a panel of five young business entrepreneurs.

She has called her business Aleo Pet Products - the first two letters of her name and the last two from her cat. It started when she had spent all her saved pocket money on a luxury bed for Cleo, who hated it but later that day a delivery arrived and the empty cardboard box was left in the sitting room.

Her mum, Christine, said: “Alice found Cleo curled up inside the box looking thoroughly content and happy. It was then that she decided to turn her upset into a positive by decorating the box and making it look beautiful.

“She has worked hard to develop her idea and Aleo Pet Products now has a manufacturer in the UK, a website, a Facebook page and her product is being supported and will be stocked at Scott’s Veterinary Clinic in Bedford and at Frosts Garden Centre at Willington.”

Alice is not new to raising money and together with her brother, Ollie, has raised hundreds of pounds for their chosen charity, Bedford and District Handicapped Riders Association, and their grandma was a founder of this 55 years ago.

Alice is donating money from her profits to the charity.

Alice, a Bedford Modern School pupil, said: “All cat owners will know how much cats love cardboard boxes, they’ll jump into one at the first opportunity!”

Alice appeared on the CBBC channel at 5pm on Easter Monday and will be appearing again at 9.30am this Sunday, April 3.