Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Joys of Starting Your Own Business

Being a vendor at a vendor expo where finding even just one right customer can make all the difference in the world on how successful my business will be, I felt I needed an edge over the other vendors when it came to schwag (raffle giveaways). Having attended one of these vendor fairs, it seemed like people were giving away ipods, and not much else. Owning a video ipod already, it didn't arouse my interest at all in trying to win anything from a shuffle to a ipod video. They don't scan my name, then fine, the other 5 tables will. And if I don't win one, no big deal, what am I gonna do with a second ipod anyway? I already feel that the ipod that I have is already the perfect ipod for me (the large video), and the other ones really don't fit well into my lifestyle. And I'm sure other people can make the same remark about the ipod they own. A second ipod wouldn't add too much to their life that their current ipod is already doing. The bottom line. Everyone owns one, and plus they are relatively expensive. Giving an ipod has become a cliche. I started to think, what is something everyone wants right now? And the time for this question was to my advantage because it is Christmas season. What costs just as much as an ipod, but will make the potential customer walk to my table and want to get their name badge scanned for the raffle? And what product will they want that badly that they'll come to me already having surrendered to the fact that they'll have to be pitched to?

The answer: The Nintendo Wii (MSRP $249.99)

The beautiful thing is, they can't just drop a dozen cards in the bowl for the raffle, the vendor has to opt to scan their name badge. If someone were to just come to my table, and ask if I can scan their names for the raffle and don't hide the fact that they have no interest in giving us any of their time, then I don't need to scan their names. On the other hand, if they have any interest in at least giving us 30 seconds of their time, this is an excellent opportunity to get the word out about our product. Even if they don't need the product themselves, they could very well know people that are looking for a product exactly like ours because of the type of conference I'll be attending.

Of course the effective price is much different. I can easily ebay it off today for $600 + $30 to ship no problem as it seems to be the case at the moment while I'm writing this blog. Who knows what the price might be at December 12. There's a slight chance anyone that wants one, with some research and planning might be able to go to the right store and pick one up as they get them in stock. Or it might be worth a thousand dollars or more. Really, I can sell this thing, and probably give away 2 video ipods and get some money back on my purchase. What would be better? Giving away the hottest Christmas toy that everyone is talking about that people have to hunt for, or give away 2 very nice ipods that will most likely arouse 10% of the interest and jabber among the crowd at the fair that the Wii can? It makes me think of my first trip to Barona with my roommates when I first came to UCSD. Someone at the blackjack table asks the female dealer if its ever advisable to split to 10's. And her reply. "Well, if you had a 10" dick, would you split that for two 5's?" Probably a quote very often heard at the scrub tables, but still a very good analogy none the less.

So I realized that there is no choice other than to get the Wii. I just couldn't see myself at the conference without one. This meant that I'll probably have to get in line at some ungodly hour, and at the very least leave the warm safe comfort of my home for the guarangee that i'll have the Wii in my hands for the conference.

While getting lunch on saturday, I stop by best buy around 2PM. Already 33 people in line. Not looking good because the soonest I told myself I'd be willing to go there is 10:30PM for the 8AM opening (which later turned out to be a 9AM opening). I said what the hell, and came back at 10:30 PM. The line has only doubled in size, and the figures that people are throwing around is that they have 100 Wii's, so with the cutting in line and all that business, I judged that my chances of getting the Wii is about 95%.

Overall the experience wasn't that bad. I was very well prepared on how to kill 10 hours in line, but very poorly prepared for the cold weather. I thought I just throw a sweat shirt on top of what I'm wearing would be fine, but I had judged poorly how cold it gets at 4AM inland when you've been standing there for 6 hours. And I also made the mistake of bringing hot coffee on a thermous. First, the coffee sitting in a thermous loses its freshness within a few hours, second, what you want more than anything is the heat inside of it. It probably would have been best if I had just brought some hot water, or a soup. Tea is questionable because you would rather not use the portapotties if you didn't have to. I could have brought extra clothing, maybe a blanket, or a sleeping bag. Any of those would have added to a lot to my experience. But I'm thinking maybe next time, I'll go all out and bring some camping gear. A lot of people did. Tents, large couch cushions, padding for their sleeping bags. On top of that, they had portable electricity by battery or by car + adapter + extension cable. I was working hard to not suffer from the cold as much as possible when Stan showed up at 5:30. I thought he went home to take a nap and was going to get in line with me. But it turned out he had come from the birthday party that I had left 7 hours ago and just wanted to help me defrost before he drove home. It was a blessing in the skies because I really don't know what would have happened if he hadn't shown up. I probably would have been fine, but he made my next 3 hours significantly less miserable.

As for killing time, I was ready. Maybe having learned from my Rose Bowl experience where I didn't have any device with me (except a cell phone w/o games and camera which you can't really play with too much while sitting on the curb for 8 hours), this time was a totally different story. I had high speed internet via BlackBerry tethering to my laptop on Verizon Wireless on the EVDO networks. On top of my blackberry and laptop, I had my PSP, DS Lite, ipod, and a sudoku book. And I had to use all of them because you can't really use one device without feeling like you're forcing yourself to do it. What is one thing I could have used more of? Probably laptop power. I wouldn't have minded watching a tv show or a movie if my battery life wasn't an issue. I surfed the web for a good 3 hours, then my battery life fell to 20% and I just had to suspend and wake it every 30 minutes trying to order the Wii on amazon (this one would be for my personal use).

At 9AM, they let us in slowly, and surprisingly they had all the games in stock. About 45 people behind me got Nintendo Wii's. Probably could have come and stood in line at 7AM and been #90 out of #100, but I wanted better odds. Anyone that showed up after 7:40 as too late. As I said, I wasn't going to go to the conference empty handed. That just wasn't going to happen.

If I had to do it all over again, I'll probably get a inflatable mattress or at the very least some thick padding for my sleeping bag, wool socks, extra battery for my laptop, and some hot soup in a thermous. Does tom yum come in a can?



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