How a Teenager Started A Multi-Million Dollar Online Business with a Parrot. UPDATED

By Paul Michael on 21 March 2009 (Updated 10 May 2009) 16 comments
Photo: Esbie

Sit down and grab a cup of your favorite beverage. I’m about to tell you the remarkable story of a young man who has built a successful online business; one that makes in excess of $400,000 per year. And most amazing of all is not that this young entrepreneur’s site is all about parrots. It’s that he doesn’t even own a parrot.  

PLEASE NOTE: Several commenters have revealed a deeper truth to this story. Much to my annoyance, I trusted two sites that have always steered me in the right direction. I should have done further research, but I was so willing to believe the story that I was also duped. However, I think the inspiration of the story is just as relevant and worthy, despite the deceptive nature of the site. Please check out http://www.nancyrichards.org/ for more information on this series of scams. I am writing to the other two blogs now, hopefully they will do the same to inform their readers.

There are so many people out there right now touting the benefits of online businesses, and success stories can be found wherever you look. They are the modern-day get-rich-quick schemes, but to most they are a dead end. They’re not willing to put in the time, money or dedication to make it work. Out of every 100 online start-ups, one will become a moderate success.

And then there are sites like parrotsecrets.com. At the time of writing this article, the modest little site has made over $2 million for its founder, and it’s still going strong. This, ladies and gentlemen, is no small feat for any business. But when you consider the start-up costs were about $5000, the founder was 18 years old, still lives in India, and that the site takes minimal maintenance, it’s even more astonishing.

If you go to parrotsecrets you won’t see anything fancy. It’s not a big, bold flash site. It employs the simplest direct response methodology, using one long, scrolling page to hammer home the selling points, again and again, about the incredible eBook all about parrots.

The site’s founder (listed as Nathalie Roberts but in fact a young man...the Betty Crocker of India) did some digging around when he was 18 years old and realized that there was no reliable online information source for parrots. And as Cringley.com reports, he got straight to work:

The owner set out to find a niche in the information economy that could be filled with eBooks as sold here.  The first step in the development of Parrotsecrets, then, was to identify the frustration of Parrot owners.

In time it became clear to the entrepreneur that parrots were an untapped market. 

Having identified a topic, the founder of Parrotsecrets needed an eBook.  The easiest way to do this was to post the requirement on one or more of the many freelancing web sites.  Writers bid on the job and the original eBook (note there are now four eBooks in the offer) went for around $2500, deliverable in 30 days.

The Parrotsecrets founder ordered from Amazon.com every book on parrots (deliverable to the winning freelancer) then waited a month for the eBook to appear.

That month was used to buy the domain, design the web site, prepare a Google AdWords campaign, and be ready to be up and running as soon as the eBook was finished.

Simple, right? He saw a gap in the market, did his homework, got together some cash to have an EXPERT (which he clearly wasn’t) write a great book and then set about promoting it.

At $79.95, the eBook isn’t cheap. But as Cringley points out, it’s a small price to pay for parrot owners, who will easily fork over hundreds of dollars for vets bills or speech classes.

And for those of you interested in doing the math, here’s what parrotsecrets is pulling in annually:

The site sells 15-20 eBook sets per day seven days per week.  Using the low end of that range is 5,475 copies per year for gross sales of $437,726.25 from a web site that costs less than $10 per month.

Could you live off $400,000 per year? I know I could. And remember, this is a guy who lives in India, where the cost of living is substantially lower than here in Uncle Sam. He’s a relative millionaire and he’s still in his early twenties. Makes you feel somewhat inadequate when you consider all the advantages we have in this country and yet most of us still can’t do what the parrotsecrets owner has done.

There are several lessons to be learned from this amazing story.

First, it’s that you don’t need to be an expert on something to build an online business around it. Contrary to what we’ve all been told, you have sufficient resources these days to have content built by someone else, usually for a fraction of the price that you can get in return (to date, that $2500 eBook has generated millions of dollars).

Second, if you find a niche in the market, you can exploit it and become very successful. If you’re sat there right now thinking “man, I wish there were some decent online information about owning pot-bellied pigs” or something like that, then you may already have your idea.

Third, and most important, is that it’s up to you t make it happen. A great idea is no good if it lives in your head. Get off your butt and do the work. Put in the hours, do your homework, read up on the topic, build a solid foundation. No, you don’t need to be an expert, but you do need to know enough to make the site a success.

Finally, look at the parrotsecrets business model and learn from it. It’s a simple web page and the product is an eBook. There are no manufacturing costs, no products to store and no shipping costs. The whole process is automated and when someone orders an eBook, it is sent in an email (or available as a download) after payment has been received. Quick, clean and simple.

Folks, in this uncertain economic time, there is one thing you can depend on; there are always people out there willing to spend money if there’s a need for the product. Identify the need, build a business around it and keep your start-up costs and maintenance fees low. If you do it correctly, in a few years you could be as successful as a certain young man in India who is right now living in the lap of luxury. And it’s all down to a bird he’s never owned.  

Thanks to The Denver Egotist for bringing this to my attention! (Ahem, I'll be having words with you guys now),

 

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Myscha Theriault's picture

I love kid success stories. Great article.

Guest's picture
Tim

Young indian child makes good. I have heard so much about the resourcefulness of India. I am glad to see his site make money good luck to him.

Guest's picture

Must be nice, to be so young, and hit it big like that!

Guest's picture

One of the biggest online marketers, Frank Kern, also sells ebooks online, and also has a parrot e-book. I don't remember his URL though. Are you sure this is not actually his site? :-)

Guest's picture

This is an amazing story of success! Identifying a need, and giving a solution for that need.

I love to hear how people are being successful in an online business.

Thanks so much for sharing this story.

Guest's picture
Guest

This is complete misinformation that is probably part of a marketing campaign. parrotsecrets.com is owned by Sumantra Roy, not some 18 year old kid. Roy is a well known "internet marketer" (aka spammer) who heads of dozens of these types of scam sites.

Guest's picture
Guest

I agree. I have no idea where this story about a young boy comes from. Parrotsecrets and many other sites are owned by SEO "specialist" Sumantra Roy who has been publishing on the internet for 10 years, and who currently also tries to run a legitimate business "Conversion Multiplier." But that business isn't doing too well, it seems.

Guest's picture
A

This would be so inspiring if true, but it appears to be a scheme. Do check out www.nancyrichards.org for more information. The general principles mentioned in the article, though, may lead to some success--if not incredible riches.

Guest's picture

Amazing. It's crazy what young kids come up with nowadays they are just getting smarter and smarter.

Guest's picture
Guest

Here is some more commentary on the, ah.... business proposition of dubious value.

http://dansdata.blogsome.com/2009/03/15/truth-is-out-of-style/

Guest's picture
Kate

Although this particular story isn't true, the idea of niche marketing is a great example of what ad execs Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval have termed "the power of small." By identifying a tiny but untapped market, you can build a lucrative business from a little idea. Just look at Zelda the Dog-- who ever would have known that there would be such a market for bulldog memorabilia?

Guest's picture
Jean

So this is not real. But it looks like it would really be something that would work. I have heard of a few stories of young people making money this way. I certainly hope it is a genuine deal

Guest's picture
Sam Ramos

Just to show that you can be successful doing anything, even though when they are simple common things that an average person can do!

Guest's picture
Guest

What are the other "two blogs" you sourced this from? It looks like an almost exact copy of http://www.cringely.com/2009/03/parrot-secrets/ - possible copyright infringement material.

Guest's picture
NRorg

Humans have always told stories. Remember how native Americans use them to teach their kids? They are meant to inspire us. That doesn't mean they are true. This story in particular is not true.

You can read all about it on our site.

As for the other blogs/copies
This is one:
http://sta12s.kosidesigns.com/items/view/445
Here's another:
http://infobusiness2.ru/node/3266