For those who've come back looking for the last post in the W5 series, I'm going to leave your mouths watering for just a little while longer, I'll post that on Wednesday. If I'm putting off the "what" of W5, it's so that I can share an compelling personal story, connected to the White Dove Release (WDR) Industry, that I recently came across.
It's the story of Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran, Dan Hash and the story of the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV) a program offered within the College of Business at Florida State University. As with any "bootcamp", EBV is a time of intense training offered on a condensed schedule. The training specialized in equipping servicemen and women, injured during their time of active service, with small business management skills, helping them transition more successfully from active service life.
Dan Hash spent 6 years in active duty, during which time - besides deployments - he earned 3 degrees. He is currently working on an MBA. His fascination with pigeons began at the tender age of 5 years and the EBV website qualifies Dan Hash's small business startup as "one of the most unique businesses to ever come out of the the EBV program". What was that business? It was and remains, United Doves, a White Dove Release business specializing in releases for weddings and other special events. (Oh and by the way, he wrote much of the business plan while serving in Iraq... as if war wasn't busy enough!!) Taking it one step further than simply breeding and training the birds (accomplishments in themselves), he set up the business with franchise opportunities (as of June 2011, the United Doves website lists 7 locations including Washington DC, Wichita KS & Las Vegas NV among others). Going further still, he has set up WhitePigeonSales.com, a website where those already in or interested in the WDR industry can purchase all supplies necessary to start their own dove release business. Hats off to Mr. Dan Hash! He has aggressively taken on the WDR industry and done so in style!
For anyone looking at "getting into doves", on the 'franchise or no' question let me give my personal opinion. When I considered getting into doves, back in 2009 I looked at a franchising opportunity with Calgary Ceremonial White Doves. I spoke with the owner who was very kind to answer a full battery of questions over the phone, the answers to which helped me decide whether the hobby/business was for me and whether or not it could reasonably fit into my already fairly busy lifestyle.
PRO: The nice thing about franchising is that it's almost 'turnkey'.... you buy a package including marketing materials, birds, cages, information on training etc. (In the case of United Doves, you can even include a pigeon loft in the purchase) and connects you with a network of other experienced individuals, the collective wisdom of whom is itself another treasure. It takes a great deal of the legwork out of the picture... so it's chief strength in my opinion is the convenience.
CON: The biggest inhibitor in my case was the cost. Calgary White Doves franchise fee (the only franchising opportunity that I was aware of at the time) was $5,000 although they do have a 'bare necessities' possibility for just over $1,700. I'm not sure what Hash's United Doves franchise fee is, but I know that the loft option from them represents a $6,000 investment. I was simply not in a position to pay that kind of money for something that was not going to represent a major income stream for me - I definitely fit more on the "hobbyist" side of things where for Hash it is his principal source of income.
Not going the franchise route meant more legwork for me; finding white homing pigeons for sale, learning how to train the birds (internet searches... lots of them), and searching here & there for supplies (release cages, baskets, loft equipment, etc). But that is part of the learning process and I've made some good friends along the way, so I'm still slowly developing my own expanding knowledge base (There aren't exactly tons of people "into" pigeons, so someone who IS into them is always pretty willing to share their know-how with keen newbies).
Now... if money is not really an issue for you or if the dove release business is going to become a main source of income for you, then a franchise option becomes very appealing as it would be considered a business expense and as such would likely constitute a deductible expense; it's definitely worth considering. Know too that, if you're like me and either cannot afford it or are approaching things from a more relaxed perspective, becoming a franchisee is not absolutely necessary to build a successful and pleasurable dove release hobby/business.... you can do it!
Again, Hats off to Dan and hats off to the EBV program team at FSU... what a great way to re-invest in those who've invested heavily in their country!
- Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities
- Dan Hash: EBV Profile
- Dan Hash: United Doves
- EBV highlighted by the Associated Press (Dan Hash is part of this video)
- United Doves
- Calgary Ceremonial White Doves