Well I've got it all set up. I'm going for the first $500. I've bought 50ft of Cat-5e cable and run it from my router out the front door where I'll have a table set up. I'll be offering my free and subscription phone services there. I'll be placing flyers at Victoria Gardens, Mustang Crossing and Lamar park - all densly populated by Hispanics - starting the first week of April.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Just thought I'd give an update on what's been going on. I've been talking with 2 venture firms. One here in Houston and one in England. It's felt like an endless english class with all the writing I've been doing.
On my own front, I'm saving up $500 to launch my first product here in Rosenberg. I'll pretty much just break even on it, but it will demonstrate that there's a market and give me some cash flow.
Thursday, March 09, 2006
Another successful test. This time of 2 boxes communicating with each other for free. It was beautiful. I was at my girlfriends house in her company as well as her parents. She said she was proud of me, which did worlds for my confidence. Her mother was impressed. Her mother is exactly the kind of person I want as a customer. A completly non-technical person that understands in simple terms what was happening. Her father works for BMC and is deeply educated in all things technical. He was silent, but had nothing negative to say, which in his case is a good thing. He is very good at finding the holes and problems in things.
We first called LeMans, France and Perth, Australia. Then we called Portsmouth, England. After everyone had a chance to use and see Skype in action, we called between the phones. Complete success. They rang within one second of placing the Skype call with the other phone. The voice quality was great. There were some voice quality problems to other Skype users, but those were fixed once they got their microphones/headphones straight. Calling with a phone is so much easier.
I'm ready for my Flash Phone to arrive. I got the tracking info for it today. It's last mark was in Toronto, Canada so it'll be a little while yet. I'm going to purchase a Skype USB phone and some SkypeOut and then being selling. It's nearly time. I'll have to purchase a cable connection at my brother's home in Victoria Gardens, but that won't be too expensive month to month. I'll also have to purchase a WiFi router, preferably MOBI so that I can stand outside with my laptop and offer free calls to Mexico.
I've got prices!! I finally got to talk to my MPLAT salesman and I got pricing on my first 10 Flash Phones and the following 100.
First 10 US$22.00 each = $220.00 + $70 shipping = US$290
Following 100 US$19.10 each = $1910 + $150 shipping = US$2060
The $290 will be easy. It'll cost me about 1/2 a weeks pay. The $2060's a little steep for my pocket book, but once I get the first 10 sold and delivered I should have more than enough confidence in my market to make that kind of investment.
I'll be working on pricing of various products over the next few days. I'll be posting them when I'm done. I've already got most of the pricing for the Flash Phone figured out.
Here's the transcript of my chat with the MPLAT salesman:
[10:48:17 AM] Aaron deOliveira says: hello Mr. Liu
[10:53:24 AM] mplatsales says: hello
[10:53:43 AM] Aaron deOliveira says: is this Lomen Liu?
[10:53:51 AM] mplatsales says: Yes. I am
[10:54:22 AM] Aaron deOliveira says: this is Aaron deOliveira - marroncito
[10:54:32 AM] mplatsales says: yes. how are you?
[10:55:34 AM] Aaron deOliveira says: well. i would like to find out about wholesale prices for F2k Flash Phones
[10:55:43 AM] mplatsales says: Ok
[10:55:53 AM] mplatsales says: How many you need?
[10:56:16 AM] Aaron deOliveira says: what's the smallest amount i can get to start with?
[10:56:26 AM] mplatsales says: 100
[10:56:38 AM] Aaron deOliveira says: so 100 is the smallest lot for wholesale?
[10:57:08 AM] mplatsales says: No. First you may order 10 unit and just test your local market.
[10:57:14 AM] mplatsales says: or 20
[10:57:27 AM] Aaron deOliveira says: do i order 10 at full price?
[10:57:44 AM] mplatsales says: Of course , still have best discount.
[10:57:57 AM] Aaron deOliveira says: how much will the first 10 cost?
[10:57:58 AM] mplatsales says: NOT FULL price
[10:58:12 AM] mplatsales says: USD22.00
[10:58:38 AM] Aaron deOliveira says: so can i get that price through MPLAT.com or do i order through you?
[10:58:52 AM] mplatsales says: From MPLAT.COM
[10:59:06 AM] Aaron deOliveira says: how do i get that price from the website?
[10:59:18 AM] Aaron deOliveira says: does it give it to me automatically when i order 10?
[10:59:23 AM] mplatsales says: No.
[10:59:45 AM] mplatsales says: I will do proforma invoice for you.
[10:59:53 AM] Aaron deOliveira says: okay
[11:00:06 AM] mplatsales says: And then you will pay it by paypal or bank transfer.
[11:00:20 AM] Aaron deOliveira says: cool
[11:00:22 AM] mplatsales says: Do you order the sample
[11:00:27 AM] Aaron deOliveira says: not right now
[11:00:38 AM] Aaron deOliveira says: i haven't gotten the first one i purchased yet
[11:00:57 AM] Aaron deOliveira says: and i haven't gotten any tracking information for it
[11:01:03 AM] Aaron deOliveira says: how long do they take to get?
[11:01:10 AM] mplatsales says: One week.
[11:01:19 AM] Aaron deOliveira says: okay
[11:01:30 AM] Aaron deOliveira says: i'll place the order for 10 when i get the first one
[11:01:39 AM] Aaron deOliveira says: so i can just get on skype and just order with you?
[11:02:09 AM] mplatsales says: No. you may send the email to email@example.com , one salesman will contact you.
[11:02:26 AM] Aaron deOliveira says: and i can still get the $22 price?
[11:02:39 AM] mplatsales says: Yes. We have price list.
[11:02:55 AM] Aaron deOliveira says: so when i order 100 how much is each one?
[11:02:57 AM] mplatsales says: Same price will depend on your order quatity
[11:03:08 AM] mplatsales says: USD19.10
[11:03:45 AM] Aaron deOliveira says: that's a good prifce
[11:03:46 AM] Aaron deOliveira says: price
[11:03:57 AM] Aaron deOliveira says: so why do you sell them for $55 individually?
[11:04:22 AM] mplatsales says: The price is FOB china price, you need pay the delivery fee.
[11:04:37 AM] Aaron deOliveira says: how much is shipping?
[11:04:49 AM] mplatsales says: So, the 100unit delivery fee will be USD150.00
[11:05:14 AM] mplatsales says: No other handle fee, or extra fee for this .
[11:05:46 AM] mplatsales says: So you may get the profit from the shipping cost for end user when you sell it at USA
[11:06:03 AM] Aaron deOliveira says: so the total cost for 100 is 1910 + 150 = 2250?
[11:06:19 AM] Aaron deOliveira says: you can ship directly to my customers?
[11:06:57 AM] mplatsales says: We sell at high price just would like to protect the partner
[11:07:07 AM] Aaron deOliveira says: ah
[11:07:11 AM] Aaron deOliveira says: good plan
[11:07:27 AM] mplatsales says: Yes. the total price will be USD2250 for 100unit
[11:07:34 AM] Aaron deOliveira says: good
[11:07:46 AM] Aaron deOliveira says: could you tell me the shipping cost on the first 10?
[11:07:53 AM] Aaron deOliveira says: 220 + ? = ??
[11:08:11 AM] mplatsales says: USD70.00
[11:08:21 AM] Aaron deOliveira says: so the total cost is 290?
[11:08:27 AM] mplatsales says: Yes.
[11:09:12 AM] Aaron deOliveira says: can i ask which shipping company ya'll use? UPS? FedEX?
[11:09:35 AM] mplatsales says: UPS, FedEx, DHL, if you like
[11:09:58 AM] Aaron deOliveira says: the shipping costs aren't the same for each shipper are they?
[11:10:35 AM] mplatsales says: We will not charge any extra cost for delivery fee, we may use any carrier as you like.
[11:10:58 AM] mplatsales says: Or if you have shipping account, then you don't need pay any shipping cost.
[11:11:12 AM] mplatsales says: We use your account to finish the delivery.
[11:11:24 AM] Aaron deOliveira says: shipping account with who? your company?
[11:11:47 AM] mplatsales says: No, your company's account at carrier company.
[11:11:52 AM] Aaron deOliveira says: ah
[11:12:06 AM] Aaron deOliveira says: and you'll be shipping from ShenZhen?
[11:12:13 AM] mplatsales says: For example, you have account at UPS, then use your account and we don't charge any fee.
[11:12:42 AM] Aaron deOliveira says: okay
[11:12:46 AM] Aaron deOliveira says: thanks for all the information
[11:12:52 AM] mplatsales says: We have different factory in china, we will choose the best delivery address to finish your order.
[11:13:02 AM] Aaron deOliveira says: i'll email firstname.lastname@example.org when i'm ready
[11:13:13 AM] mplatsales says: Great, have a good day.
[11:13:33 AM] mplatsales says: i am so excited to setup the new business relationship with your company.
[11:13:45 AM] mplatsales says: look forward your feedback.
[11:13:46 AM] mplatsales says: bye
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
I gave a demonstration to my parents of how Skype works and how I'll be building these private networks. I had James try the Skype Test Call over the phone. He got a confused look as though he didn't know quite what he was doing. Next we called a man in Malaysia and had him on speaker phone. The speaker was a little crackly, but we heard him clearly. I asked him where he was (Malaysia) and what time it was there.
After the demonstration, James had a lot of questions about the legality of these networks. I explained to him how people use private networks all the time without knowing it. CB/Ham radios. Free cell phone to cell phone calling. Even hooking up a generator to your house is using a private network of sorts. After all his questions, I think he has a better understanding of what I'm doing.
My mother is becoming incrementally more supportive. She's moved from luke warm to real interest. She's heard calls from Taiwan and Malaysia so far. Once I get some SkypeOut minutes, I'll have her call her brother in Washington and maybe even Japan where she lived for awhile.
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
I guess now would be a good time to explain why I've made the switch to Mexico. I've been talking to people I know who know El Salvador and none of them can (or will) share their contacts there with me. Oh well, I was kind of expecting this. So I've decided to work in Mexico where I can get to myself without a lot of cost.
I'm going to focus on Mexican bus lines and Mexican areas like Victoria Gardens and little Mexico. I figure I'll be able to find customers who are invested in contacting Mexico. I can also talk to Carlos. He runs a "service shop" doing private curreny exchange, selling phone cards and other small services mostly to immigrant workers. There are a lot of options.
Like I said before, I'll buy some SkypeOut minutes and count them as advertising. I feel that when people talk to their friends in Mexico for an hour or two they'll be tempted to buy.
I tried out one of the boxes on my phone at home and it worked. I wasn't screaming at my laptop anymore, I was talking through my phone - adapter - laptop - wifi router - cable modem - internet/skype to people on the other end. I actually had a confrence call with 3 Danes and a Swede. It was awsome.
I'll be testing the other box at Kimberly's house this Thursday to make sure that they can find each other. I'll also want to test the call forwarding feature, so I'll be forwarding it to her cell phone.
This is going to be awsome. I'm even more excited than I was yesterday getting the adapters and downloading Skype 2.0
Monday, March 06, 2006
The Skype Adapters have arrived!!! I'm buzzing with excitement now. The coolest thing is how small they are. They no bigger than a stuffed wallet. Kimberly and I have plans to test them this Thursday between our houses. I'll probably test them myself before then. I need to do the test between Kimberly and I because I'm building the recoprical network to what Skype provides.
My first move will be to offer free calls and pay for the SkypeOut charges until I can build up about 10 orders. Then I'll travel to Mexico (yes I know there's been a change, i'll post later) and set them up.
I'm halfway through deciding that the Victoria Gardens apartments here in Rosenberg could be an ideal set up for my testing before I really try to expand. It's at least 50% 1st generation Mexicans and other Central/South Americans. I could set up a free phone and try to gather orders for either the Flash Phone to be used at a kisosk that I supply or for adapters for thier own houses, as the kiosk would be outside.
I'm thinking out loud here, so I figure the VERY first product will just be a subscription to my free phone. You pay me $10 and you can use the free phone for as long as it exists. Obviously, I'll be taking a loss on this with the SkypeOut minutes, but that's the cost of advertising. I'm sure actually talking to people they know in Mexico will convince some of them to buy my products.
Thursday, March 02, 2006
Let me tell ya'll a little bit more about myself since I'm part of the team you'll be investing in. My business career started in 1997 when I was 17. I had been learning about the Web since junior high when I played with the Mosaic browser. As I graduated from high school, I was enamored with the possibilities of PHP, MySQL and the Apache server. I started investing time and money into developing back end products for web sites. I hired my friends, bought a domain name and even incorporated in Delaware. I was very much absorbed with the idea of "built it and they will come." I struggled to run this company for 2 years. It was a complete and utter failure. I ended up sinking about $5000 and numerous man hours into my company. I also trashed my credit. A teenager really doesn't have much to fund a company out of pocket so I tried credit cards...mistake. It was during this time that I experienced all the numerous things that a start up goes through on it's way to success. I failed at all of them, but I learned two things. What to expect and by inverse what success is. I learned about cash flow, marketing and numerous other business principles.
From 19 to 21 I contemplated my failed business. I began reading everything I could find on business in newspapers, magazines and of course online. I became convinced, incorrectly, that my biggest failure was that I didn't have a perfect business plan. So I spent months on and off crafting various business plans. I even tried to send them to people of influence, but got no response. It was also this time that I tried my hand with companies like Vector Marketing selling Cutco knives. In all my reading, my favorite subject has always been business cases. Everything from Fortune 500 companies to dot.com flame outs.
At 21, I spent two years in Taiwan serving as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It really transformed me. It also ended up being a great business education. My mission president was President Phipps. Before serving as mission president he had run several successful businesses in Australia. His last position was Director of Public Lands for the Australian government. His instruction was always of a spiritual nature, but his demeanor was that of a successful business man. I studied him incessantly. I absorbed his ideas about work, people and management. From a business perspective, my service as a missionary was a two year internship at a global company. I managed fellow missionaries as well as native Taiwanese members. I worked through direct marketing, referrals and media. I learned how to transform my American views and habits to fit the Taiwanese culture. I became fluent in the Chinese language and customs. As I walked through the streets of Taiwanese cities I became familiar their numerous factories that produced goods that I knew in America.
When I got back I joined the Army Reserve. I wanted to use my linguistic (tri-lingual) ability in the intelligence field. I ended up in the Chemical Corps learning about Nuclear Biological and Chemical weapons of mass destruction. As many businesses know, you can learn a lot about management in the military.
In the years up to now I've done a lot of temporary work. I've worked for companies such as Halliburton, GE and Shell. I've also worked with a lot of small business like Biotics Research and Monarch Paint. My fascination with business cases led to me studying their business practices as I walked about their offices doing data entry work. I often talked with regional and national managers about their businesses.
This has been a really happy and really pivotal night for me. I've actually brought my soon to be fiance in as a partner. Myself, I'm a visionary. I can see things for thier potential. The downside to this is that I often get trapped in the future and fret about what I should do next.
My girlfriend believes in my dreams, but is much more of a realist. She is able to break down my vision into each step that needs to be done to accomplish it. I know we will be a success together.
The reason I'm making this post is that I've calculated my personal investment in this company to this point and I've made some new purchases. My personal investment so far is $1210:
|350||Laptop (w/ School)|
That's all the money that's come out of my pocket so far that I can figure. And of course years of sweat equity learning about these technologies and this opportunity as well as putting everything together into a nice package that will accelerate the adoption of VOIP technology by the international masses.
The big news is that I've bought my first 2 Skype adapters. I've also bought one Flash Phone. With the $300 that I've invested in Dean's talents, I'll have a computer that I can install in Mexico and get things rolling. I've found that Greyhound will probably be my best bet for both travel and customers. By installing at or near bus lines, I'm reaching customers who are already thinking about where their going and are showing a geographical (moving themselves) and monetary (bus ticket) committment to said place. My first few installs will be along bus lines. I figure people would be willing to pay $10 to make unlimited calls to wherever they're going, eventually anywhere along the bus route. I'm also preparing to approach Greyhound about the possibility of financing me or at least giving me access to their lobby. If not, I'll set up across the street with WiFi.
The Flash Phone is for me to experiment with since its a thumb drive. Thumb drives are something I've thought about before. The Flash Phone actually has an audio component with the USB drive. It looks pretty cool too.
I figure it'll be the second or third product I offer. It definitly has a lot of potential for market penetration, especially if I can pair it with some strategically placed Skype servers and Skype adapters.