Business Beta Site: GlobalPetals.com
Michael Lyons first came to the College of Business with the hope of learning everything about finance, accounting, international business, and maybe even a little Spanish. The problem, he found, was not so much whether he could do it but in figuring out exactly how.
Advisors in the Office of Undergraduate Affairs encouraged Michael to learn as much as he could about available opportunities and to figure out a way to achieve his goals. Michael learned that with so many resources to be found at ILLINOIS, anything really is possible.
Michael’s story begins in the Study Abroad office where he signed up to study in his sophomore year at the University of San Francisco Quito, known to many as the Harvard of Ecuadorian universities. Located in the foothills of the Andes Mountains, this is where Michael learned the culture and language and in so doing developed the relationships that led him to real-world business.
Michael’s host happened to own a small rose plantation that was fraught with challenges, exactly the sort the eager Illinois business school student was drawn to. As he listened to family members discuss problems dealing with collecting payments, establishing creditability and building a company identity, finding reliable distribution and more, so grew Michael’s interest.
Michael learned that the Ecuadorian rose market comprises the fourth largest export in the country and out of the more than 500 farms few have little if any web presence or international marketing sophistication. Michael’s mind raced as he set sights on improving the industry and helping to build up the country’s middle class.
Michael started constructing a web site that encouraged all Ecuadorian rose farmers to build a network of storefronts and information useful to international buyers. That effort turned into a company, Global Petals, LLC. He helps them tell the world about their businesses, green growing practices, quality assurance and more. In helping buyers share their specific needs, he opens the door to growth opportunities in previously unanticipated ways. In effect, Michael is instrumental in starting farmers on the path to developing from product-centric businesses to full-service ones.
“My experience abroad has opened up doors to opportunities I could never have imagined before. I now have a new appreciation for all of my finance and accounting classes because I can apply them to my own business and real world experience.”
Not wanting to reach the end of his burgeoning development and seeing the need for additional talent to carry forward his new business venture, last year Michael recruited others to join him. Currently, Parth Kapadia, an engineering student from the Illinois Institute of Technology, Jack Berg, an engineer at ILLINOIS, and an Illinois Business Honors/Accountancy alumni, Mike LaBelle '08, have each signed up. Together they have spent eight months building relationships with an array of business people in Ecuador and the US, rebuilding websites, engaging donors, and of course, selling roses.
Michael is also proud to have four business strategy interns for the summer: for the summer: Alex Buris, Greg Ward '14, Holly Chan (Purdue), and Jordan Barnett (Purdue).
Michael is currently a senior Honors student in the College of Business.