This interview was made possible by our friends at Guidant Financial:
The leader in alternative startup, franchise and small business financing.
Alex Andon is the Founder and President of Jellyfish Art. Alex’s fascination with marine animals was sparked on a sail through the British Virgin Islands, while free-diving through underwater tunnels in coral reefs. He went on to work for the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece, camping on beaches in Crete to protect nests and hatchlings. Alex accumulated extensive experience in building aquariums for his own research projects at Duke and the University of Delaware. He founded Jellyfish Art on a platform of cutting-edge jellyfish husbandry techniques that have been developed over the past decade. Alex has a B.S. from Duke in Biology and Environmental Science.
Jellyfish Art sells pet jellyfish and everything you need to effortlessly enjoy them. Jellyfish are becoming the next trend in ornamental aquariums and Jellyfish Art is the leader in supplying live jellyfish and their specialized aquariums and products. Their mesmerizing forms and soothing movement create living works of art. Jellyfish aquariums are a new kind of interior decoration, sources of light and will quickly become the focal point of any space.
MO: What was your ‘aha’ moment of deciding to bring pet jellyfish to the general public?
Alex: I noticed everyone was memorized by the jellyfish tank at the major aquariums and I realized there was no way for the general public to own and raise their own jellyfish due to their unique characteristics. So I set out to create something that didn’t exist in the current market place.
MO: Can you talk about the development process from having the initial idea to actually bringing pet jellyfish to the market? What unique challenges did you encounter along the way?
Alex: Building something that didn’t exist in the market place, definitely proved to be a very challenging task. We had to do a lot of research and development as well as sourcing manufacturers willing to work with small businesses in developing innovative products. Some challenges we faced along the way included funding, sourcing, and development as well as creating a package which allowed people to effortlessly own / enjoy their own jellyfish.
MO: I must confess that at first the idea of a pet jellyfish sounded comical and just bizarre. Then I went on your site and was struck by how beautiful and compelling they are. What kind of reactions did you initially receive when you started to pitch your idea?
Alex: Immediately after I started pitching the idea, people were fascinated with the thought of being able to have their own pet jellyfish. Most of the reaction we received was positive and from individuals who wanted to know when they could have their own. We ran one of the most successful kickstarter campaigns in their history, raising over 150k from over 500 supporters.
MO: I noticed on your site that the fish tank you sell looks unique and seems to really display the jellyfish as art. Did you need to design a special fish tank for the jellyfish or is the design purely for aesthetic purposes?
Alex: Jellyfish cannot go in a regular fish tank because they will get stuck in corners and sucked into filtration intakes. Jellyfish Art’s signature Desktop Jellyfish Tank has the right water flow pattern designed to keep jellyfish healthy and properly displayed. The design of the tank was really created around the jellyfish.
MO: I noticed that the moon jellyfish is the only species featured on your site. Do you plan on offering any different types of jellyfish or is the moon species the best suited for living in tanks?
Alex: Although there are many types of Jellyfish, the moon jellyfish was a great fit because it is a safe kind of jellyfish in that it does not “sting” you if someone were to come in contact with it. We currently also offer cleaner snails and Red Leg hermit crabs which all get along and thrive well in the tank together.
MO: If I could grant you one business related wish, what would you ask for?
Alex: Our goal is to become the next “amazon” of all things pet related. We are working hard to pursue this dream to be the one stop shop for anything pet and pet related. Thank you so much for the opportunity to share our business with you.