We had the good fortune of connecting with Michael McAllister and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Michael, what habits do you feel helped you succeed?
When starting our business it was extremely tough! Creating an idea was easy as we knew what we wanted to do and that was teach the public about reptiles. However, to do this it requires insurance and Tegan Viveash my girlfriend and co owner was on phones every day calling tons of insurance companies to find someone that would provide us insurance. We found someone! Then after that it came to pricing. We knew what others were priced so undercut those prices by half and advertised ourselves heavily on google. Once people experienced how passionate our company was and how amazing our reptiles were we slowly adjusted our prices up but still kept under our competitions pricing. Soon our competitors could not compete as we had the same animals as them, we were more enthusiastic then them at teaching, and we were affordable. Our competitors started handing over our clients from that point and now we are charging the same prices they were but still keeping some competitive pricing in places for any future competitors. So ultimately I would say passion, drive, and determination is what caused us to succeed.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
When you think of the reptile industry you get a lot of different characters. Most people associate us to RockStars and Goths but in reality I would say the reptile industry is very diverse. For us we are a clean cut couple that you may never actually guess own over hundred animals unless you asked us. Most people when they get into reptiles they go to wanting to open a pet shop or become a breeder. However it takes a special kind of person to become an educator. Many people in the reptile industry are not as enthusiastic in sharing their reptiles however we are. When we introduce a reptile into our shows first thing is we want the audience to go “WOW” and then we want to give as much backstory and fun facts about that reptile to where the audience can relate to it in a fun and interactive way. This can be difficult to do but my family comes from a line of teachers so it was easy for me to practice at schools to see what worked and what didn’t with kids. This is what sets us apart from other we have a drive and a passion not just for our animals but our target audiences as well. I wouldn’t say it was easy and its still not easy when you deal with live animals. You have to account for feeding cycles, illness, insurance, housing requirements and screaming kids. In 2019 we had one of our best years until the end when we lost 10 of our show stopping animals to a virus. This grounded us and we had to rebuild but we had to rebuild during a Pandemic which put educators basically out of business. We overcame it though because we also have full time jobs on the side. We say the full time job pays the boring bills, our business pays for our passion of the animals which gives us joy. If the world was to know anything I would say never give up and always be ready to change. One of my favorite movies is Moneyball. There is a quote “adapt or die” and I follow that quote always.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
When people visit we always take them to the Wildlife World Zoo. Thats where I use to work and we usually get treated very well when we go there. Also we have a very nice Aquarium out here. However, our national parks are the best. So much site seeing in Arizona and not to lengthy of drives to see them. We also love to Kayak so we always try to fit that in.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There are so many people I want to thank. My kindergarten teacher started my passion for animals as she had a class pet Tarantula. I found it fascinating! I was encouraged to read books about snakes and other reptiles and this allowed me to grow. Also on a trip with my mom to the San Diego zoo she asked a zookeeper in the reptile department if he could just answer any questions I had about reptiles. That zookeeper went above and beyond and gave us a private tour behind the scenes of the reptile exhibit! I also want to thank my Mentor Rene who took me under his wing when I worked at a zoo and gave me all the experience of reptiles and husbandry. I worked with so many reptiles under him and developed amazing skills to help educate others. Of course this business wouldn’t have been possible without my girlfriend and co owner Tegan! She was just as passionate and helped create the business as a valentines day gift for me. Her passion has also grown and she is the brains of the operation for sure. She has also brought her wonderful family who are just as enthusiastic and love building and cleaning and providing food for the reptiles. They even come out to help us a huge events when we need an extra hand! Finally I have to thank our customers! Without them there is no business and we have a lot of followers and repeat customers that keep us going and encourage us to do more!