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Designer bat houses for neighborhood mosquito and pest control

Photo of Christopher Rannefors
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In a time when nature conservancy efforts are under threat, we need to come up with new creative ways to educate the public on how to peacefully co-exist with wildlife in ways that are mutually beneficial. By approaching wildlife conservation through a business lens, we believe it has potential to better stick in the minds of consumers.

We are launching a small business producing designer bat-houses for the consumer market. We call it BatBnB. Bats can eat up to 5000 small bugs each night, and we want to position them as the greatest natural solution to backyard mosquito and pest control. By placing a BatBnB in your backyard, you will provide an increasingly endangered animal a safe space to roost for the spring and summer months. Best thing is, they stay out of your way. Bats do everything they can to avoid humans, they only hunt at night when most of us are sleeping, and they are tucked away inside the BatBnB sleeping during the daytime. Thanks to the beautiful product design, we hope consumers will want to proudly display their BatBnB as an art piece in their backyard.

An important component of this campaign is to educate the community on a commonly misunderstood animal and demonstrate creative ways to think about the relationships we have with the animals around us -- we give the bats a home, they keep garden pests in check for us. Win-Win. 

Explain your idea

BatBnB's are small box-like houses made of Western Red Cedar. They are designed to be easily assembled so that parents can put them together with young kids while talking and learning about bats. Each unit has landing pads extended below 1/2 inch wide chambers. The bats fly onto the landing pad after a night of eating bugs, and then move on into the chambers to snuggle with their families. The houses can be mounted on trees in your yard, or on the back walls of sheds or barns.

Who Benefits?

CONSUMERS: benefit from increased backyard/farm/neighborhood pest control, education for kids and families on conservation efforts and how to live alongside animals for mutual benefit BATS: benefit from increased number of safe roosting sites during the spring and summer months so they can safely grow their colonies. Bats are threatened now more than ever due to white nose syndrome, deforestation, and wind turbines. BAT RESEARCHERS: we are in talks with a leading bat conservation group to have every BatBnB purchaser register their product with the group once bats move in. This will be an important way to help with the conservation efforts by giving researchers insights into bat population trends and even an opportunity to visit and study new bat colonies.

How is your idea unique?

No one has ever done bat-houses at scale before, and no one is approaching the problem the way we are. Existing bat houses on the market are poorly marketed and boast plain designs (no one wants to put an ugly pinewood square up in their backyard). We are planning a unique marketing plan to dispel culturally-ingrained misconceptions about bats, and will drive demand by focusing on the benefits to mosquito and pest control. It's a beautiful win-win where consumers receive pest control, and bats get safe new homes. We need more creative business-driven plans like BatBnB to help support wildlife in North America at a time when nature conservancy is at an all time low given our new administration's reluctance to take climate issues seriously. We are already in talks with Indiegogo about crowdfunding our launch in the late summer of 2017.. We have skills in marketing, advertising, fabrication, start-ups -- but we want your help and involvement to help us get to the finish line!

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Prototyping: I have done some small tests or experiments with prospective users to continue developing my idea.

Tell us more about you

Instagram: @batbnb We are based in Lexington, KY - located near the heart of American manufacturing and the intersection of some of the largest bat populations in the USA. This has been a side project for us the past several months. We are not necessarily looking for new collaborators as much as we are looking for community feedback, advice, advisorship, etc. We are targeting a July crowdfunding launch, and have loads to get done before then. We'd love your involvement! Please reach out to us via OpenIDEO or our website ( Christopher Rannefors - Experienced start-up professional, spent 3 years out in San Francisco working in ed-tech and now works at a manufacturing software start-up called MakeTime. Has experience in project management, advertising, storytelling, and videography. Chris is in charge of marketing, partnerships, and operations for BatBnB. Harrison Broadhurst - Has a background in design and fabrication and works at a local architecture firm called Nomi Design. You dream it, he can make it. When building our designs, we have foremost focused on making the units an ideal habitat for our bats, while also incorporating elements that make the BatBnB into an art piece that you will proudly display in your yard or local park. Our goals for the business are to have it be profitable enough for us to hit retail stores at a fair price -- but we also plan to donate a significant portion of our profits to conservation organizations that are doing great work. Step one if the crowdfunding though, we need to see if there is enough of a market out there.

Expertise in sector

  • 1-2 years

Organization Filing Status

  • No, but we plan to register in the future.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Kate Rushton

Hi Christopher!

I like the concept.

Have there been any concerns about the proximity of the bat houses to attics? I am not totally sure on the situation in the US but in the UK bats are protected and if you find them in your attic the removal costs are extremely high.

Photo of Christopher Rannefors

Hi Kate,

Great question. Actually bat houses are something that a lot of critter removal companies recommend to help ensure that once bats are removed from your attic that they have a nearby home to go to instead -- otherwise they may just try to find a new hole in your house to roost in.

See Part 2 Step 2:

Photo of Kate Rushton

Have you considered the UK market?

'If you are found guilty of deliberately killing, injuring, handling, possessing, disturbing or selling a bat, you could be sent to prison for up to six months and be fined up to £5,000 per roost of bats. You can obtain a mitigation licence from Natural England, but this can cost thousands of pounds.'

Removal costs are incredibly expensive.

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