These two young men are growing their nest egg with funky chickens

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

When coming up with your next start-up idea you may be thinking of a great new app, a hot new technology or a cool restaurant. Marcus Guerassin and his brother Bailey were thinking about something else when they started up their business just a few years ago. They were thinking about funky chickens.

In Australia, where the two brothers are from, these are commonly referred to as fancy chooks. Regardless, funky chickens–which are just normal chickens but groomed to look…well…kind of ridiculous–have been a hit and business has been booming. Who’s buying? “Normally, it’s little kids and they come with their parents and pick a chook or it’s husbands getting their wives a good present,” Marcus told ABC Rural. Getting their wives a good present?

If you want to see some examples of funky chickens then check out the company’s Facebook page. But watch out.  You may fall in love and if you want a fancy chook you’ll pay anywhere between AUS$5 and AUS$15 (or $4 to $11)–it all depends on their food intake, age and your maturity level. Plane fare to Queensland is not included.

The two brothers, aged 15 and 13, have proven themselves to be worthy businessmen. The initial financing came from the “bank of Nan” (that’s their grandma) and the “bank of Dad.” As new chicks are now hatching every 21 days their growing sales and profits have been reinvested to expand pens and purchase an egg incubator. “We went through a point where we didn’t have enough chickens for what people wanted, that’s where all the extensions have come in,” Bailey told ABC Rural. An increased cash flow has also enabled the brothers to diversify into buying, selling and breeding cows and other livestock.

Payroll costs are low. The boys are mostly able to be self-sufficient but they still rely on their dad and grandma to pitch in when needed and help keep the books. As compensation, dad takes a carton of beer and Nan gets a bottle of wine every now and then, according to Marcus.

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