Young Entrepreneurs Compete On “Startup U”

By Dimitra Lavrakas
Gloucester Daily Times, Mass.

How did a girl from a fishing town like Gloucester end up on pushing diagnostic kitty litter on TV show about would-be entrepreneurs?

“Well, that’s pretty cool,” Carly Martinetti thought when she found the casting call on the web for a show called “Startup U.”

Cooler still, she was one of 10 chosen for the program, which airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on the ABC Family network.

Similar to “The Apprentice,” the show follows 10 potential business owners as they are mentored by business leaders on how to launch a company in a grueling, seven-week program at Draper University in San Mateo, Calif., and through the pitch of their products to venture capitalists eager to find the next big tech innovation.

Of course there is a rich person involved: university founder and billionaire venture capitalist Tim Draper, who investments include Skype, Tesla and Hotmail.

Martinetti’s product, Pretty Litter, combines fun with medicine.

“The color changes when there’s a problem with your cat’s health,” Martinetti said of her colorful, sparkly litter. “There’s no perfumed smell at this time, but it does provide odor control.”

Martinetti said she’s researching advanced features such as adding an anti-parasitic agent to neutralize toxoplasma gondii, which can spread to humans — especially children and pregnant women — who handle cat litter.

The product can be ordered at, delivered to your door every month, and one 3-pound bag lasts a month for one cat, she said.

It’s described on the site as “a low-cost, diagnostic litter with advanced odor-control, scoopable, flushable, dust-free, 100 percent ecologically friendly, and safe for cats.”

Martinetti has been in Los Angeles for six years after attending the University of California Los Angeles, where she studied psychology.

How did she make the leap between the study of human behavior and providing a better medium for feline waste?

“I had this in the back of my mind for a while,” she said of the kitty litter. “I always wanted to do something with our behavior and contrast it with animal behavior.”

A 2008 graduate of Manchester Essex Regional High School, she runs the award-winning web blog, Featured Creature.

The animal lover is the daughter of local dentist Terry Martinetti and Carin Warner of Warner Communications in Manchester.

“I don’t miss the winters in Gloucester, but I do travel back quite a bit,” she said. “But then, this wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t stayed where I was.”

There is no set amount that “Startup U” contestants win; that’s determined by Draper. If Martinetti doesn’t win, she’ll turn to crowd sourcing on the Internet to get Pretty Litter off the ground.

“I’d be looking to do a Kickstarter campaign,” she said.

You can follow Martinetti on Twitter at @ftcreature.

Want to watch?
Who and what: Carly Martinetti on “Startup U”
When: Tuesdays at 10 p.m.
Where: ABC Family

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