He’s 7 Years Old…and He’s Got Worms

I like to think that I was somewhat precocious when I was a young kid – as an extremely avid birdwatcher (and amateur naturalist in general), and painter – but what’s interesting, is that I never really had the entrepreneurial bug back then. Ok, well there was the one summer my older brother and I sold golf balls and nightcrawlers (both gathered from a local golf course). But that’s it!

Nevertheless, the ‘bug’ did eventually hit, and now I just can’t help but be inspired when I learn about young people starting up their own businesses. Ryan Reynolds is certainly no exception!

I first learned about Ryan while recently checking through some links that had been submitted to our Worm Composting Business Directory [UPDATE: directory is no longer active]. The name of his business, “I’ve Got Worms”, caught my attention right away – I never cease to be entertained by the phrase (ever since watching “Dumb and Dumber” for the first time), and as you can see, I even make use of it here on the site (look left – haha). Believe it or not, I’ve even been working on a video series with the same name!

Great minds think alike, I guess!

Naming aside, what REALLY caught my attention when I visited the site was that fact that Ryan is definitely NOT your average worm farmer! First and foremost, he started his business – based in Provo, Utah – back in March, when he was still in Grade 1!!

But I don’t want to steal the poor guy’s thunder here – long story short, I got in touch with Ryan ask him about his business and see if perhaps we could put together a write-up about it for the blog. Here is what he had to say (along with some pictures he sent me):

I started I’ve Got Worms! because the street I live on is too dangerous for lemonade stands. I’ve always wanted to find ways to make money so when my mom told me about composting worms, I was excited! My investors (mom and dad) helped me out with the start-up costs except for my hard earned $1. They gave me a loan at 0% interest on condition that I payed all that money back before I kept any for myself. I got my worm bin finished March 5th, the same day my worms came (2 pounds to start out). I’ve never seen that many worms before! Holding them is weird.

Since then, I’ve been able to pay off my investors and reinvest in my business so that now I have a bin full of worms that are just growing (I can’t sell any of them because I’m trying to get enough so that I can just sell my own worms) and another bin of worms to sell.

My favorite thing about my business (besides the money!) is I get to help the world be a little cleaner. I love recycling cardboard and newspaper for my neighborhood and I love helping other people start vermicomposting too. And we’re already getting tomatoes that we grew in vermicompost and they’re the best I’ve ever tasted (oh yeah, I trade vermicompost for my mom’s time whenever she has to help me with emails or phone calls or anything. She says it’s a great trade and by the looks of the garden, I’d have to agree!).

Ryan cutting cardboard for new bedding. He uses a shredder for the newspaper but then rips or cuts the cardboard. It takes him a while to get the bedding done for a vermicompost starter kit, but he listens to books on CD while he’s working so it’s not too bad.

My least favorite part of my business is touching the worms. Well, not the worms exactly but the bedding. My hands get so dirty because the vermicompost sticks to them when I’m mixing the bedding or checking on my worms or sorting them, but it’s worth it. Mom laughs at that because she thinks most boys don’t mind getting their hands dirty but I still don’t like it. And sorting the worms for sales is pretty hard too. I like it best when my friends or mom have time to help me. I’m thinking about saving up for a worm sorter, but so far I sort everything by hand.

Ryan holding a few of his worms.

The funniest experience I’ve had with my business is when we first started, we didn’t know that you have to leave the lights on at night so the worms won’t get out. Or maybe we knew but we thought the worms were doing OK without it. Well, the next morning we went down in the basement where my bin was and there were worms everywhere!! Luckily we saved most of them. Now we always keep the lights on them for a few days when we get a new shipment.

Ryan checking on his worms. He says they look great!

Oh, and another favorite thing about my business is handing out business cards whenever I’m out with my mom or dad running errands. I love how surprised people are to see me and find out that I’m the President of my own business.

Ryan posing with his latest batch of worms. He’s up to 12 pounds now and excited for his business to grow even bigger.

I’d like to take the opportunity to thank Ryan for sharing his story here on the blog. I’m sure he will be a source of inspiration for many people – both young and old!


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  1. Thanks for the great article! I just wanted to say that most of our orders are local and people come pick up their worms from my house, but we can ship them too. Just fill out the contact form on my website and we’ll send you a shipping quote if you need one. Thanks! I can’t wait to help you start vermicomposting because it’s awesome!

    • Kim from Milwaukee
    • August 6, 2009

    Wow Ryan, what a smart guy you are, having the courage to start up your own business. You’re an inspiration to us old folks!!!

    • Shelley Seslar
    • August 6, 2009

    Bentley and Ryan,
    I will share this inspiring story with my son who is 5 and excited to start our first worm bin this winter when composting outside gets less fun in the cold and snow of Central Washington State.
    Thanks! Shelley

    • Mary
    • August 6, 2009

    Nice job Ryan!! Keep up the good work!!
    Mary in New Berlin Wisconsin

    • Selene from Florida
    • August 7, 2009

    Hi Ryan,
    WOW!! What an amazing young man you are!! I appreciate that you’re trying to get everyone around you involve in this great revolution! This is so good for the environment and for our planet! I’m so inspired by you!!!!
    Congratulations on starting your business and I wish you nothing but success in this!
    I just went to check out your website and I have to say I’m very impressed! You’ll be hearing from me!!!
    And, thank you Bentley for introducing this young man to us!!!

    • Susan Bolman
    • August 7, 2009

    I hope to inspire others with this story. It’s a great business for kids. I’d never thought of that. (Lemonade is so 20th century!)

    How long did it take Ryan to go from 2 lbs to 12 lbs? It says the business started in 2009, but I’m guessing the 2 lbs arrived long before that.

    • Bentley
    • August 7, 2009

    I could be wrong, Susan, but my impression is that Ryan has been buying from a supplier while slowly building up his own stock.

    “Lemonade is so 20th century!”

  2. Hi all, this is Ryan’s mom. Thanks for all your great comments. It is a great business for kids! I help with emails and sometimes with phone calls but that’s about it (and I bill him in vermicompost!). In answer to the question about how he has built his business, he has been really disciplined about reinvesting almost everything he’s gotten (he keeps $2 from each sale and reinvests the rest most times). By focusing on selling vermicomposting starter kits (worms + bedding + composting bin + instructions) and worm tea, rather than just the worms, he has a higher profit margin so he has been able to start purchasing the worms in bulk, keeping more and more of the worms from each sale. Last week he finally got enough to put aside half that he’ll just let grow so that hopefully by the end of the year, he’ll be able to fill all his own orders. The best thing is that there aren’t many other vermicomposting companies in our area so we’ve been able to help a bunch of people who are wary of paying shipping costs and who wouldn’t have gotten started otherwise. Best of luck to anyone else getting started! It’s hard work for him sometimes, but it’s been so good for him and pretty fun too.

  3. How very rare to see one so motivated and responsible, even among adults. You give me hope for our future, Ryan.

    • allochthon
    • August 11, 2009

    Awesome, Ryan.

    What is a “worm sorter?”

    • Selene from Florida
    • August 13, 2009

    I just had to let everyone know; I just received 1lb of worms from Ryan and they were in GREAT shape! I got a really nice amount and even though they had to be mailed across the country to me (with temps here in the 100’s!) they weren’t hardly stressed at all!! I’m even more impressed with this young man than I was before! He really cares about his business and about treating his customers right. He also cares about his worms and making sure they get to you in the best condition. I wish all the other vendors were like him, then we wouldn’t have others getting discouraged because they were taken advantage of.
    Thanks Ryan!!

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