Ryan Alovis

A few years ago, Alovis started ArkNet Media with almost zero capital. He’s quickly turned it into a rapidly growing e-commerce company that has allowed him to turn his entrepreneurial energy to giving back

QuoteMy Achilles’ heel is saying “No” to new opportunities. After college, my father asked if I was interested in making something of a web domain he owned, Magazine Discount Center. Despite not knowing anything about the magazine business, I said yes. I started with nothing: no operations, no servers, no branding. With little capital, outsourcing was my only option. I spent many a sleepless night on the phone with my developer in India working out the functionality of the website. To say I was feeling around in the dark would be an understatement. Although we launched and have seen tremendous growth ever since, it was a lesson in patience and commitment that stuck with me as we launched additional e-commerce sites.

ArkNet has also put me in a position to lead outside the office. It’s given me the financial and mental wherewithal to start the Silver Lining Society (SLS), a fund-raising committee for pediatric cancers. I visited Columbia University Medical Center more than five years ago. I walked around with a box of lollipops and watched kids, who were barely old enough to know who and where they were, fight for their lives. I thought I was this young gun, but those kids showed an astounding amount of courage that I found humbling. I started SLS the next day, and it has been my second life ever since. It’s something that I’ve absolutely fallen in love with.

In ArkNet’s early days, I was like an excited puppy. If something dropped in my lap, I ran with it. We’re constantly faced with new projects, businesses, and ventures, so every day I get to feed my insatiable appetite for opportunity. But success has given me the freedom to be more selective. We’re almost six years in, and now we own a range of great web properties. The team here knows we’ve built something pretty tremendous, but I believe we have yet to scratch the surface. Now, our focus is on making ArkNet a tighter, leaner company to position us for further growth.

Looking back, I’d give young entrepreneurs this advice: when the only person who can say “No” to you is you, anything is possible. The prospect of that freedom can be scary, but it can also bring great rewards for those brave enough to pursue it. Understand that going back to the drawing board when things don’t work is not the same as giving up. A great business takes much more than a great idea, so patience is critical in any operation, whether you work in a small start-up or global corporation. Quote