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EXECUTION So I have 500 crustaceans living in my room...

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Omega

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I got into making my own business recently and I figured it was unique enough to share.
It's been a goal of mine to own a successful business and I don't consider this business to be a success yet but eventually It will be. The goal for right now is to whittle down the initial investment and start making an actual profit.

So what is this business? Well, as it says in the title. I have 500 (or more) crustaceans living in my room. Particularly, terrestrial ones. I am keeping, breeding and selling Isopods. I have various species and containers that line the wall of my room and that are stacked up. Now there is only so much that someone new to this hobby can understand since It can get complicated.

"Where's the market? What's even the point of these guys?"

The market is growing pretty steadily, new species are being introduced into the trade every month and prices are slowly changing. There are isopod markets in most countries that all have different prices. Why is this? Each country, of course, has laws that may or may not allow invertebrates to enter their land with or without permits. The prices in the US are higher than the prices in Germany for the fact that Germany lets species come in mostly unhindered. If I were to import species to the USA, there would be quite a chance of the species being caught at customs, eliminated, and then I'd be heavily fined. So species get imported to the USA illegally but it's much slower than other countries for importing.

What's the point of these guys? For the most part, the more expensive species are traded just for the novelty and for the hobbyist to collect rare species. However, there is almost another market for isopods, and that is the market for clean up crews.

Clean up crews provide a valuable service when they are put into a terrarium or vivarium...They eat waste which could be either feces or dead leaves/ rotting wood. Clean up crews will also help control mold and a few other things inside terrariums/vivariums.

How do clean up crews and isopods link together? There are a few species of Isopods that are commercially advertised as clean up crews. One such species is called Trichorhina tomentosa, or its common name, "Dwarf whites". They're a very small species that reproduces insanely fast, they're sold all the time in the hobby to reptile keepers and the like.

I have acquired various expensive species but I am just now breeding Trichorhina tomentosa in mass in an attempt to get small contracts with local exotic pet shops to carry the species, sell them, and give me a slice of the profit.

What's the limiting factor in all of this?

The limiting factor is how much each species can produce offspring and the time it takes for the offspring to mature enough in order to survive shipment. Each species produces mancae (babies) at different rates and they all have different growth times. As far as the rare/uncommon species are concerned they can just sit in my room and I can sell them off at any time, Some range in prices from 6$ each to 15$ each, and most broods of mancae are around 15-25. However, you can't expect 100% of the mancae to survive until sexual maturity.

How do I work around this limiting factor?

The (really) only way is to increase my inventory, supply and the number of containers I have. 4 tubs of Trichorhina tomentosa won't produce as many mancae as 8 tubs.

What's the plan?

I'm in the process of getting a logo done before I contact any stores I want to have a good supply of dwarf whites in case it goes well. I don't want to get a contract and say "oops, sorry I can't supply that amount". I'm working a job, I have income and I have time. I don't want to sit on my a$$ all day however rushing things and making a bad impression would not go well. In the case that I can't secure contracts, I can simply sell them online and create a website. I already have a facebook/ Instagram presence and I've been building that up every day.

The rare/uncommon species will be very easy to sell as the demand for them is crazy. However, most of the money in this hobby is with clean up crews. A culture of 20-30 Dwarf whites could sell for 15-20$.

Let's say I could start off supplying 10 cultures every week, that's a cool 200$ in my pocket as I seek to reinvest and expand.

How Fastlane of a business is this?

Honestly, I know the metrics and I know the market. There's not an insane chance of money unless you're one of the few big hitters in the market in the USA. At that point, I'd have permits and I would be importing new species, I'd also have a separate room or someplace I could rent out to get extra space.

My generation of money is tied to crustaceans and how fast they can breed and reproduce. It's tied to how many I keep and care for. Currently, I probably have around 200 mancae developing, but If I can't sell them I don't make money. However, there is a possibility of getting different products that aren't animals. Selling vivarium/terrarium supplies can be very lucrative. So I will seek into expanding into that later.

I'm currently not sitting on a bad spot. As soon as I can seed other containers with Trichorhina tomentosa I can start contacting local businesses and take it from there. My replies to this thread will be for questions and my updates to this business will be big updates, and for those curious as to what the hell these look like, I'll post a few pictures of mine.





 

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MHP368

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Sell franchise kits.

Also , can you breed them to have distinct markings and coloration like snakes and things or not so much?
 
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Omega

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Sell franchise kits.

Also, can you breed them to have distinct markings and coloration like snakes and things or not so much?
Yes, you definitely can! Some species I have do indeed have specific colors and morphs that have been bred through generations to achieve. Different morphs/colors will provide higher value usually.
 

PizzaOnTheRoof

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Good luck with the new business, man!

But that is absolutely disgusting...I feel like I need a shower...

 

NMdad

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That's cool--and so niche! Way outside the typical businesses people start.

And I can't imagine you'd have much competition. Like, how many other isopod experts are there who are ALSO entrepreneurs? It's like a Venn diagram of 2 miniscule segments of the population.

OK, I've got some ideas for you:
  • Who else needs cleanup crews? Yes, terrariums/vivariums (both consumer & commercial (like zoos & museums)), but where & for what else could cleanup crews be useful?
  • If you needed to 10x your inventory for cleanup crews, what would you need to do? Get more space, more tubs, more what? Hire a high-school or college student to tend your flock?
  • How do you get buyers now? What can you do to ramp that up? PPC?
  • Growing beyond your current live-animal trade:
    • What else does your market want/need?
    • Terrarium/vivarium supplies (like you mentioned). You could drop-ship products, create packaged kits, etc.
    • Infoproducts: You've got a bunch of expertise. Package & sell it in guides, tools, courses, etc. Digital products might be the most scalable way to grow your business.
    • Services: What does your market need done for them? Help navigate the importation regulations for their country? Help getting started, or leveling up their current setup? What about consulting for non-consumer sites (like zoos, museums, biological supply companies, etc.) about using cleanup crews?
 

NMdad

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Oh, and something else to consider--I think MJ might've mentioned it in TMF: If you suddenly had 10,000 customers wanting to buy from you, could you serve them all?

If not, what could you sell that could meet the demand of 10,000 potential customers.
 

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A way cool niche. It will be interesting to learn of your success. I urge caution in how you handle selling to various countries. The introduction of non-native species can have devastating effects on the environment: Africanize bees, vermin destroying bird populations, cane toads, the list goes on. Even the experts can screw it up. Getting fined should NOT be your concern. Contributing to the unintentional destruction of a natural environment is what should concern you. There are ways to proceed with what you're trying to do in a responsible manner. Please put ethics over dollars here.
 

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I know if a business in Ireland who started growing organic snails to import for the food market in France. They are making a fortune.

I know it’s not that similar but it’s pretty interesting in general how profitable a niche like this could be.

Sounds like a lot of your business is down to how fast they can mate - I hope you’re playing some smooth R&B in that sitting room and keeping the lights down low .

I’ll keep an eye on this thread for sure - cool to see an approach so unique.
 
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Omega

Omega

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That's cool--and so niche! Way outside the typical businesses people start.

And I can't imagine you'd have much competition. Like, how many other isopod experts are there who are ALSO entrepreneurs? It's like a Venn diagram of 2 miniscule segments of the population.

OK, I've got some ideas for you:
  • Who else needs cleanup crews? Yes, terrariums/vivariums (both consumer & commercial (like zoos & museums)), but where & for what else could cleanup crews be useful?
  • If you needed to 10x your inventory for cleanup crews, what would you need to do? Get more space, more tubs, more what? Hire a high-school or college student to tend your flock?
  • How do you get buyers now? What can you do to ramp that up? PPC?
  • Growing beyond your current live-animal trade:
    • What else does your market want/need?
    • Terrarium/vivarium supplies (like you mentioned). You could drop-ship products, create packaged kits, etc.
    • Infoproducts: You've got a bunch of expertise. Package & sell it in guides, tools, courses, etc. Digital products might be the most scalable way to grow your business.
    • Services: What does your market need done for them? Help navigate the importation regulations for their country? Help getting started, or leveling up their current setup? What about consulting for non-consumer sites (like zoos, museums, biological supply companies, etc.) about using cleanup crews?
The competition is actually ramping up, people are suddenly springing up with businesses. The entry point can be pretty low because you only need a few hundred dollars to acquire a species. The big sellers though definitely have separate rooms and spaces to keep thousands of isopods in. Every hobbyist can sell their species but most buyers of isopods aren't looking to cram containers and tubs everywhere in their house.

To put it simply, I would definitely need to up the number of containers I have, and that means more space. I can fit a few more in my room and soon I will be purchasing a rack to fit more.

Thank you for the bullet points and ideas! They've opened my eyes up a bit more to something larger in the future. The idea about the Zoo/museums is a pretty great idea that I hadn't even considered. I appreciate the reply and your time.
 
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Omega

Omega

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A way cool niche. It will be interesting to learn of your success. I urge caution in how you handle selling to various countries. The introduction of non-native species can have devastating effects on the environment: Africanize bees, vermin destroying bird populations, cane toads, the list goes on. Even the experts can screw it up. Getting fined should NOT be your concern. Contributing to the unintentional destruction of a natural environment is what should concern you. There are ways to proceed with what you're trying to do in a responsible manner. Please put ethics over dollars here.
I agree 100% ,money is only money. I have plenty of time to make sales and I have actually denied people from buying my species because they're from various countries and it would be unlawful. The USA has laws and other countries have laws, you have to be very mindful of them to not over-step your boundaries. There is a lot of money in illegally importing species to the USA but I refuse to partake in that. I don't want to damage other countries ecosystem for a few quick bucks. I won't pull names however I know most top sellers do indeed illegally import or have others do it for them. A small amount has permits and does it legally. You also have to think about your own country as well as others.

Money comes and goes, the destruction and rebirth of an environment might not. Especially living in Florida, I am mindful of this, we have plenty of invasive species already.
 

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Omega

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I know if a business in Ireland who started growing organic snails to import for the food market in France. They are making a fortune.

I know it’s not that similar but it’s pretty interesting in general how profitable a niche like this could be.

Sounds like a lot of your business is down to how fast they can mate - I hope you’re playing some smooth R&B in that sitting room and keeping the lights down low .

I’ll keep an eye on this thread for sure - cool to see an approach so unique.
Wow, that's great to hear! Small niches like these are great because you have a fighting chance of becoming a major seller and provider. Thank you for the confidence boost, and thanks for everyone to replying!
 

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So the next step could be a good blog. Write 10, 1500 word articles and 4, 4000 word articles to get it started. The great thing is.... you had your product before you had the blog! You can QUICKLY be THE leader in this business!
 
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Omega

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So the next step could be a good blog. Write 10, 1500 word articles and 4, 4000 word articles to get it started. The great thing is.... you had your product before you had the blog! You can QUICKLY be THE leader in this business!
Yes, a website is definitely on the horizon, along with blog posting. As far as quickly being the leader it depends on how much money I want to throw around. Thankfully I've been growing a community on my own, so my name is getting out there (hopefully). The big guys in the niche are spending thousands each import and have full-fledged websites.

It's all a matter of time. I need to snowball my profits and keep on running with it until it gets bigger and bigger. Any money I gain while operating this business is being chucked back into it for more inventory! The blog is a good idea though, I was definitely planning on making "Keeping reports" which would be similar to a blog. I'll keep that in front of my mind though when I make a website, While the niche is small I could definitely snag some good SEO while I'm at it!
 

minivanman

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Can I see some of their websites? You can message them if you want. I bet you could quickly over-take them as far as a blog and profit from the blog is concerned. And once you make yourself known as the KING of crustaceans, they can spend all the money they want, as long as you dominate the blog world.
 
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Omega

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Can I see some of their websites? You can message them if you want. I bet you could quickly over-take them as far as a blog and profit from the blog is concerned. And once you make yourself known as the KING of crustaceans, they can spend all the money they want, as long as you dominate the blog world.
Sure no problem, DM sent
 

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Those are adorable. I didn't know these species like wood lice and pill bugs (known as rolly-pollies to every kid ever) were crustaceans either. Always assumed they were insects.

I think whether the business is "fast lane" or not depends on where you take it. It sounds like there are lots of niche needs that can be served by these little guys.

Reminds me of someone I know who just grows bean sprouts and sells them to all the Asian grocers and restaurants. I know, bean sprouts aren't cute little trilobyte things, but it's an agricultural niche nonetheless.

Clean-up crews... I know anthropologists, biologists, and forensics people buy beetles for defleshing and such... I wonder if these lil guys could serve some related scientific/professional need.
 

NMdad

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Clean-up crews... I know anthropologists, biologists, and forensics people buy beetles for defleshing and such... I wonder if these lil guys could serve some related scientific/professional need.
Indeed--isopods might have benefits over using beetles/roaches for cleanup.
 
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Those are adorable. I didn't know these species like wood lice and pill bugs (known as rolly-pollies to every kid ever) were crustaceans either. Always assumed they were insects.

I think whether the business is "fast lane" or not depends on where you take it. It sounds like there are lots of niche needs that can be served by these little guys.

Reminds me of someone I know who just grows bean sprouts and sells them to all the Asian grocers and restaurants. I know, bean sprouts aren't cute little trilobyte things, but it's an agricultural niche nonetheless.

Clean-up crews... I know anthropologists, biologists, and forensics people buy beetles for defleshing and such... I wonder if these lil guys could serve some related scientific/professional need.
Yeah posting this thread on the forum actually cleared up some air around my head. You're right, it depends on where I take this if it's Fastlane or not. Before I was only thinking about wanting to clear X amount of dollars per week. As far as defleshing goes some species of isopoda can be very protein hungry. However, overall the beetles are just better. Easier to care for and they do their job better but......

That doesn't mean I can't buy a boatload of beetles and breed them to sell to museums, etc.
 

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Brand yourself as the Isopod King!

Btw, do you have any pics of what your room looks like? Just curious about the setup and how you store these little ones....
 
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Brand yourself as the Isopod King!

Btw, do you have any pics of what your room looks like? Just curious about the setup and how you store these little ones....
It's a bit of a mess until I get racks and containers that actually match :happy:



This is most of the Isopod stuff. I have other animals in my room....and yes...My mother hates it. I will probably move out some time and she's hellbent on putting up little decorations in the room wherever she can. Only 15 containers here are being used for Isopods. Let's make it 30!

Quick edit, beneath my entire bed are supplies and my closet is packed with shipping material and various other things. Should give you an insight into how crazy it gets.
 

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Xeon

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Funny, I was telling him the EXACT same thing in private message. :clap::
Yup, in fact, he can even write blog articles and content, and establish himself as an isopod authority.....this has a lot of potential.
 
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Yup, in fact, he can even write blog articles and content, and establish himself as an isopod authority.....this has a lot of potential.
Yup, that's what we've also been talking about in DMs. For sure I'm seeing the potential. I got a fresh full day tomorrow (technically today, it's 2 a.m.) so I plan on making some moves.
 

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Money comes and goes, the destruction and rebirth of an environment might not. Especially living in Florida, I am mindful of this, we have plenty of invasive species already.
Outstanding and good for you. If only everyone in the critter trades were so conscientious.
 

NMdad

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You're on your way to becoming the Amazon of isopods/insects/creepy-crawlies. :)
 
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Thinking about getting into merch and getting designs done for t-shirts.

I'm doing research now but does anyone have some words of advice or some nuggets of knowledge they could pass my way? I very much appreciate it!
 

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Thinking about getting into merch and getting designs done for t-shirts.
Why t-shirts? Why not merch associated with keeping your critters? T-shirts are nice SWAG to throw in when someone orders your critters, but not likely a money maker.
 
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Being in Facebook groups and in the hobby more than others, there is 0 merchandise with good designs that enthusiasts can buy. The big sellers in the hobby are older and probably aren't in touch with things like this. One business has T-shirts but they're just designed with their logo/text on it with a plain black Tee. I'd argue that it is a money maker since no one else is doing it right now. A lot of people are wanting merch, pins, stickers, etc.

I seeded more containers of Dwarf whites a few days ago and I also bought a rack, a few other shipping supplies and got everything set up. While I wait for my dwarf whites to breed, I thought, why not? I open my opportunity to money when I expand, so even having a few designs up for people to buy, would greatly increase the money I make. I don't want to just sit around while I wait for things to breed, the goal is to be actively doing something.

I already have one design done, I plan on advertising them on Facebook, Instagram, and even my own discord group.
 
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