Website of the Month: Southern Missouri Mule Outfitter & Equine Supply

2010-04-08-somomule2Welcome back our Website of the Month! This month’s spotlight is on Ken Levine from Southern Missouri Mule Outfitter & Equine Supply (Somomule.com).

Ken retired as a federal law enforcement agent in 2007 to focus on his love – outfitting mules. As a trained ferrier (horseshoeing) his hobby quickly became a business after he set up his website using CityMax.com.

Somomule.com is a retail sales outfitter for horses and mules, selling pack equipment, tents and even Amish tack for backcountry pack saddles.

“It was very easy to figure out, and I don’t have any HTML knowledge,” said Ken. “In two and a half years we went from zero to making six figures a year from the business. My wife quit her bank job and we have more time to run our farm now.”

Ken’s site currently receives around 5,000 unique visitors per month. He offers this advice to aspiring entrepreneurs: “You need to be dedicated to your business idea and be organized – be on top of everything. From shipping to selling, this has been a labor of love with thousands of hours going in.”

You can tell the man truly enjoys what he does! Congratulations again to Ken and Somomule.com, our March Website of the Month.

Ken Lyotier: Vancouver DTES Entrepreneur and Olympic Torch-Bearer

2010-02-11-ken_lyotier_07It’s not often that you get to meet someone like Ken Lyotier – a man who rose above his own personal challenges to create a well-respected, non-profit business by uniting a community more known for sad stories of homelessness and addiction rather than those of success.

Lyotier is the founder and former Executive Director of United We Can, a non-profit bottle depot that operates out of Vancouver’s Downtown East Side. This week, we were lucky enough to have Lyotier come in and tell his inspirational story to us first hand during our weekly team learning session.

Like many entrepreneurs, Lyotier started off by identifying a problem that he was experiencing himself. While trying to earn a living by collecting recyclable cans and bottles, he found that the stores that were supposed to honor the refunds were often unwilling to accommodate the bottle returns.

With the help of a local minister, he and a friend decided to organize an event where people could bring in non-recyclable items for cash – he was overwhelmed with the response and energy it generated from the community.

“The buzz you get from people being excited about what you’re doing is better than any high you’ll ever get from drugs or alcohol,” says Lyotier.

After searching for answers to local recycling issues and working with the government and VanCity, United We Can was founded in 1995 and has grown into an impressive source of inspiration, empowerment, and employment to people living in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side. Over the past few years, the organization has grown beyond the bottle depot to include other services that work well within the community, including a bicycle repair shop and computer recycling.

Along with being a well-respected member of his community, Lyotier’s positive impact on the community has also recently earned him an invitation to light the cauldron at the 2010 Vancouver Games celebration site after being handed the Olympic torch by Canadian singer Michael Buble.

Ken Lyotier is an inspiration to any entrepreneur and he also provides some food for thought. What business opportunities surround you in your own life? What’s holding you back? Use personal challenges to take a step forward and write your own success story.

A Global Movement of Entrepeneurial People

2009-11-16-gew_nodate22This week, (November 16-22) countries across six continents will celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week together – an initiative “to inspire young people to embrace innovation, imagination and creativity.” Over seven days, the movement seeks to achieve four goals for young entrepreneurs: inspire, connect, mentor and engage.

As part of the week, the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards will be held in Kansas City, Missouri. Regional and national winners from around the world have qualified to vie for the title of top student owning and running a business while in school. Last year’s competition featured over 1,000 collegians from more than 300 universities in 11 countries, and over $150,000 in prizes. In 2009, the competition is even bigger – with our own Chief Evangelist and President Dean Gagnon on the exclusive panel of judges.

Great job to all of the entrants who have made it this far – we’re excited to see who will take home the top prize!