Wild Ranch Enterprises

"Getting the butterflies" can be a good thing.
This story appears in the May 2001 issue of Startups. Subscribe »

Shane Farnsworth was always interested in butterflies, but it wasn't until he read about them being released at weddings that he began to think he could translate this interest into a lucrative business. "I discovered new markets were being developed for butterflies," explains the Lakewood, Colorado, entrepreneur.

To meet this demand, Farnsworth founded Wild Ranch Enterprises in 1995 and started offering it as a business opportunity two years later. Farnsworth provides licensees with all the basics: an operations manual, five butterfly larvae and a container to grow them in, tools for handling the larvae, a cage and feeder for the adults, and the butterflies' food. In addition to selling butterflies for release at weddings, which can bring in $90 to $100 per dozen, licensees also supply butterflies to collectors, artists, scientists and museums and sell them for use in floral arrangements and aviaries.

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Wild Ranch Enterprises, (303) 448-5618

Surprisingly, space is not a major concern for operating this business. According to Farnsworth, more than 2,000 caterpillars can be grown in cages that cover a 6-foot utility shelf. "If a person has [an extra] room in their home, they certainly have the space to raise butterflies," he says.

Farnsworth is constantly amazed by the new ways his licensees find to market their butterflies. One of the more novel uses for the insects is in juvenile facilities where the children are taught how to work with butterflies as a potential career. Says Farnsworth, "You can learn something new about butterflies every day."

Edition: December 2016

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