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In Pictures: Love for geckos launches a company

Jeffrey Ribeiro thought he could design a better – and cheaper – way to feed his pets

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Jeffrey Ribeiro thought he could design a better – and cheaper – way to feed his pet geckos. The Toronto resident founded Repti-Ledge in his mother’s Toronto basement with $246. He designed products -- ledges that support feeding cups -- that today are sold in 53 stores in North America as well as in Germany, Mexico and Britain.

Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

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Mr. Ribeiro designed a feeding ledge, pictured here, on a three-dimensional printer. Through a colleague, he found a Chinese factory that could manufacture the ledges in a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way. They would cost $15 retail, half the price Ribeiro had been paying. He ordered 100 ledges, kept 24 for himself and posted the rest on the classified advertising site Kijiji. They sold within about 2 weeks. He thought: “Maybe this is a viable business option.”

Repti-Ledge

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Here is Mr. Ribeiro with his geckos -- he has 24 of them -- at his home in Toronto. He took his product to local pet stores and they agreed it was a good product. “There are 900,000 households in North American that keep reptiles as pets,” he says. “And the crested gecko is the fifth most popular reptile.”

Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

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Mr. Ribeiro also developed 11 other products, including modern looking acrylic cages, gecko food, disposable feeding cups, places for reptiles to hide in their cages and a digital thermometer for temperature control.

Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

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Now that his business has grown, he has moved out of the basement into an office, hired a bookkeeper and an intellectual property lawyer and brought in one of his friends as a partner. Now he is eyeing the big time, which in his world means PetSmart Inc., the largest pet supply store in North America. The company has expressed some interest, he says.

Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

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But he is already manufacturing in batches of 1,000 and selling out within two weeks. He knows the big players need a consistent flow of inventory. He has talked to venture capitalists but says it is too soon to give up a chunk of the company. On the operational side, he wants to learn about inventory and supply-chain management and wonders what kind of people could help take his company to the next level.

Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

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