Kingsnake Classifieds Ball Python
Nearly every day I get an email from an enthusiast who who says something like this: “Justin, I love following you online and watching your videos, it must be awesome to breed Ball Pythons for a living, ” or “can you tell me how you got started with your business.”
So I’ll tell my story for the first time online, and I’ll be completely candid.
When I first discovered Ball Python morphs, the titans of the industry were already rocking it. By almost any measure I was late to the game (although it seems early now!) I would visit the websites of RDR and NERD during my senior year of college and dream of being like them, creating these amazing animals. At the time I was breeding a few kingsnakes and had one normal Ball Python as a pet. When you’re in college a lot of people ask what you’re studying. I would always reply, “My degree is in marketing, but I’m going to be a Ball Python breeder!” (I can’t imagine how crazy this must have sounded to non-reptile people.)
When it came time to actually spend the money I was SCARED. I’ll admit it. After all these were just snakes right?! There could be no way they were actually selling for these obscene prices. Maybe it was just all a trick and the guys at the top were the only ones actually making money. This was 2005 and lots of naysayers were already crying that whole thing would collapse in a year or two and we would be left with beautiful pets. (The same arguments we’ve heard every year between then and now.)
I obtained financial backing and jumped in with both feet. My initial investment was about k (about 20 animals + caging and supplies). Having just graduated, that was fortune to me.
I kept my full-time day job and for the next 3 years did only two things with profits, bought out my financial partner and reinvested every extra dollar. This reinvestment amount was likely as much as my initial investment.
The collection grew and so did overhead and time costs. Honestly it wasn’t always fun spending weekends and evenings cleaning and feeding hundreds of snakes by myself. It was even harder to find the time to care for customers to my high standards. I was working a 30-40 hour/week job for free, just building my dream.
In the end I just couldn’t do it in my spare time. I remember the night my wife pointed out what I too busy to see: that I had to quit my job. I told her “There’s no way. The snakes couldn’t support that.” I still hadn’t taken one penny personally from my profits.
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