Last month, I had the pleasure of talking to April Ellis from Mission Pony, and sharing her small business story as she set off on a journey to bring motorized ponies to the streets of San Francisco.
At Rocket Lawyer, entrepreneurs like April inspire us to provide simple and affordable legal guidance, so they can build the businesses of their dreams. In this series, we’re following April’s story and helping her get the legal support she needs along the way.
Most recently, April’s pony rides lassoed a crowd on San Francisco’s Embarcadero. The ponies got rave reviews.
“It was a real delight to see children riding these charming machines. There was a long line, and the kids were really excited,” said Karen Yu, who tried out a pony at the event. “I don’t think I’ve ever done anything like that before! It was a new experience.”
I stopped by the Mission Pony corral to hear how her business is growing, what it’s like to work with an attorney using Rocket Lawyer On Call®, and what she’s focusing on next.
Jenny: How’s the business coming along?
April: This year has been really good to us. We were invited by the Exploratorium (a hands-on museum in San Francisco) to participate in their “On the Move” event. We brought out our horses for kids to ride, and we had a corral set up for adults on the Embarcadero. It went really well. We served over 300 riders and received positive reviews all around!
Jenny: Have you worked with a lawyer? How did it help your business?
April: We talked to a lawyer through Rocket Lawyer On Call(R) last year. We went over the basics of the business and got general advice, which was fantastic. One of the things that he recommended was having riders sign a Liability Waiver, so we wouldn’t be liable in the off-chance that someone were to get injured on one of our ponies.
So before the Exploratorium event, we set out to get our Liability Waiver done. We started with an Activity Release of Liability document from Rocket Lawyer. We fleshed it out on our own first, and then used Rocket Lawyer to get in touch with an attorney to help us customize it more. We wanted our riders to sign one document that would cover the liability waiver for the activity, as well as a release of information so we could have permission to use any photos from the event on our website and in our promotional materials.
The lawyer who helped us was extraordinarily easy to work with, responded to me quickly, and understood what I needed. I had a document the very next morning! We did it entirely over the phone and email so it was really convenient.
Thanks to Rocket Lawyer, we were ready for the event. The only downside was that we only made 200 copies of the Release Agreement. So during the middle of the event we had to go and make more!
Jenny: How does Rocket Lawyer On Call(R) compare to finding a lawyer yourself?
April: I wouldn’t know where to start to find a good lawyer! I am really grateful to have had a template to start with and to be put in touch with a lawyer who knew exactly what I was looking for.
We also found the price very reasonable, especially for the value. We spent twenty minutes over the phone discussing it, and then he spent only 30 minutes creating it. It was very affordable, especially with our Rocket Lawyer On Call discounted rate.
Jenny: What’s coming up that you’re excited about?
April: Our next big push is to do promotions for companies and individuals at events like fairs and parades. We’re going to be promoting a film that’s premiering at the Cherry Blossom Festival on April 20th. We also just added a new pony to the stable that we’re calling the Pinot Pony. It’s for wine tasting! It’s purple and it’s vinyl, so it’s a little more waterproof. It has a cup holder built into the neck. We’re hoping to do rentals for wine-tasting events up in Healdsburg where wine tasting is big.
Jenny: Have you run into any business challenges?
April: The next big hurdle is that we’re looking for general liability insurance. We’re not comfortable doing those small rental events for the general public without it. We’ve found that the insurance companies don’t understand what we do, so we were declined by several companies. We have more of a track record now, though. With several events under our belt, we’ve shown that the ponies are safe, and we’re hopeful we can get insurance now.
Please stay tuned for the next installment in April’s story—from her newest ponies to her insurance challenges as a small business owner.