I’ve been sidetracked in my postings for Unique Things, and I will post every Friday, from now on. We thought that it would be nice to have a couple of giveaways to thank you for shopping with us. The way the giveaway will work is to go to Uniquethingsonline.com and give me your opinion on the website setup, prices, products and what you would buy from us in the future. I am looking for at least 5 lines and the giveaways will go to those who I feel have given a well-thought-out opinion. I will choose the winners on 27 August 2017. Please enter your opinion and email in the comments box at the end of the blog. The prize is a small Bluetooth speaker. I have two to giveaway, and we will be doing this periodically so we can gauge how you, our customers, feel about your shopping experience with us.
Unique Things Products
There are no two people who agree on everything, however it takes a lot of compromising to start a business with your spouse. It is so easy for a business disagreement to become a relationship issue. I like expensive items, that maybe we can only buy 2 of, and she likes cheap items, where we can buy 100. Our disagreement became such a issue that we were each ordering our own products. When the products came in, they became not Unique Things products, but mine or her products. Then we tried dividing up the jobs for Unique Things, like my overseeing ordering and her in charge of website-building, that didn’t work, because she was still ordering when I was asleep. When the packages came in, she would hide them and pretend like they were here all along. Crazy, yes, but this is what I had to deal with. In the rest of this blog, I want to show you some of the Unique Things products and descriptions. I hope that, once you see them, you will agree that they are unique.
This is a sampling of the products you will see on our website: uniquethingsonline.com. When you are finished checking out our website come back to the blog and write your opinion with email address in the comments section. Please look for my blog every Friday.
The next step was ordering products for Unique Things. As stated in my last two blogs, I have a love for technology gadgets, and I frequently participate in funding projects on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. The projects on those sites are usually made in China. At the time, we decided to see if we could get some of the knockoffs of Kickstarter and Indiegogo projects. This was not a good idea, and you’ll see why later.
We joined the Alibaba website and started our search. Though our aim was geeks, the same people that pledge on Kickstarted and Indiegogo, we forgot all about that. We were overwhelmed by what we thought would be good products for Unique Things. My spouse was staying up crazy hours at night looking at the site. I was still working at that time, getting up at 3am for my commute to New York City. I would be half asleep over coffee, but I had to go to Alibaba to see what I could find for the business. We each had a list of items that we’d compare after work and on weekends, and of course, we didn’t agree on everything. Actually, we were both wrong, because we weren’t considering our target consumer; it was just whatever we liked and thought was different. This was, in my opinion, the biggest problem; not realizing that just because something was different, it didn’t necessarily mean it was a fit for Unique Things. The other big issue was that my spouse would go to work and discuss things with her coworkers, and of course, they all had an opinion. Their opinion I really didn’t need, because I was already having a hard time dealing with my spouse’s opinion as to what was unique.
The Chinese; I can say one thing about them, they are a persistent group of people. The time difference didn’t help matters, because our night is their day. The only saving grace was, with my getting up at 3am, I could sometimes email someone and get a response. They were usually on their way home, so the followup question had to wait until the next day. There was always a followup. The language barrier was another blip in ordering; I found that most Chinese spoke broken English. The bigger issue was their understanding the meaning of my words. The amount of emails was ridiculous. It seemed that, if you contacted one seller, somehow, other venders would be emailing you. When you order from the Chinese off of Alibaba or Aliexpress you have to try to decipher if this is what you want. The description, in most cases, is very limited.
There was also the aspect of quantity, which was way more in most cases than what we wanted to spend, especially when you don’t know the quality. We made the big mistake of always asking for samples, because we only wanted two or three of an item. They were eager to sell samples, which meant they would sell a few, with the full cost of shipping. We made a huge mistake financially, buying samples with full shipping cost. This ate up a lot of money we could have used for advertising. I’m sure that the sample prices gave them a profit, though I can’t prove it. When some products arrived, they were nothing like the pictures and some where the quality was questionable.
I can say that most of the payments were done through PayPal, except one item that required a wire transfer. The Chinese sellers where fast with the shipping, which took about ten days via DHL. I never had any problems where they received their money and didn’t ship. It was a very time consuming job, going through the website to find knockoffs of Kickstarter and Indiegogo products. The reason for trying to find knockoff Kickstarter and Indiegogo was that these sites had new gadgets that people might have never thought possible. It was hit and miss on finding knockoffs that we could get the quantity we wanted and for a price, plus shipping, that we could afford. In the next blog, I’ll talk about the products we bought and more on disagreements that can arise in doing business with your partner.
Indiegogo works basically as I stated in the previous blog.
What’s a Crowdfunding
A crowdfunding site is where you try to back a project’s vision with other people’s money. The projects that are backed can be almost anything, and they come from anywhere in the world. The Indiegogo site listings consist of a person or group of people who start a campaign and the backer(s) who pledge the money. This blog discusses the technology section of the Indiegogo site; however there are other areas, where you can either start a campaign or become a backer. A campaign starts with an individual or group of people going on the Indiegogo site to raise money for their project. They tell you about themselves, how the money they receive will be used, and how their vision could become a finished product. The campaign owner will setup different tiers for pledged money, with a month and year of when that tier should receive the finished product. When you pledge early in a campaign, you can be part of an early bird tier, which usually means that you will receive a perk for contributing early. The campaign owner will show a process timeline from the beginning to the end of the project. There’s a section in each campaign for questions and comments from people pledging to interact with either the campaign owners or other backers.
The person pledging money on a project is a backer for that project. A prospective backer will usually look over the information about the person or group in charge of the campaign. He/she then has to decide, if backing, which tier level he/she can afford. A backer pledging takes into consideration the month and year that the item should be received, because no one wants to back a project that they won’t see for 5 years. The projects I’ve seen, or backed, on Indiegogo usually have no longer than a year for completion. When you’ve made your pledge, then you’re officially a backer of that project, and then the waiting game begins until you receive your finished product. During this time, a good campaign owner will keep his/her backers happy with continuous updates of the project. There are many campaigns that are not produced, because backer participation is very low in funding.
Good and Bad Campaigns
My experience with Indiegogo is that very few projects actually finish within the projected timeframe that is given. What, backers or potential backers, have to remember is that most of the campaign owners are novices regarding what has to be done to bring a project to fruition. They are probably good in their field, or complement each other’s talents well as a group, but having never done anything of this magnitude there are bound to be errors. I find that most of the factory work on these projects is being done in China, and campaign owners probably have no experience dealing with the Chinese way of working.
When projects have gone over the date of delivery, the backers start to get very nervous because there is no recourse if a campaign owner decides to take their money and run. You, the backer, can make all the comments you want on Indiegogo, or even report the campaign owner to the BBB, but the bottom line is you’re out of whatever money you pledged. Indiegogo is testing allowing backers to buy insurance for projects. I have been party to a campaign scam for a router that could control every connected device in a house. This router had a completion date of December 2014, so we the backers were looking for it as a nice holiday gift. The campaign owners had setup campaigns on two crowdfunding sites, and when they were fully backed, they setup up a third product website to give all of those who hadn’t backed another chance. A campaign owner will usually setup a product website after their campaign is fully funded so that was not unusual. The only difference between backing the project on Indiegogo and backing the product off the website is you’re getting it sooner, with any promised perks. The campaign owners for this router provided no updates or any information at all when contacted. There was speculation from the backers on both crowdfunding sites on what happened to their money. I found out that the campaign owners were two brothers who went to jail for an unrelated matter. You just never know if a campaign owner is legitimate, or if he/she can actually complete the project, due to variables within.
The item you see pictured is the Scanadu Scout, a medical device that is hoping to get FCC approval. I am part of one of the biggest medical trials for data collection with a device of this kind. The campaign owner hopes that one day this device can be used by the everyday person to check his/her own blood pressure, oxygen, heart beats per minute, and temperature
The latest project I’m backing is new on Indiegogo. It’s a projection clock that I’m scheduled to receive in December 2015. This clock is supposed to show you social media notifications; weather, location, short messages, and you can customize the projection that you see. Users will control all of these features through their smartphone from anywhere. This turned out to be another scam. The campaign manager gave us very sporadic information during the campaign, and once the campaign closed we received no information. Indiegogo has other campaigns areas you can either start or back in music, health, gaming, and films.
Who Is Indiegogo?
Danae Ringelman, Slava Rubin, and Eric Schell started Indiegogo in 2008, with a headquarters located in California. Indiegogo is one of the first crowdfunding sites to let people ask for money to back projects. Indiegogo makes money by charging a 9% fee on contributions, of which 5% is returned if funding is met. Indiegogo also makes money through PayPal and credit cards
Indiegogo provides a way for new ideas in technology, as we move into the smart things era. You will be amazed at some of the projects you will find and some may be hard to resist. I know that every time I visit the Indiegogo site, I’m opening my wallet to pledge.
Come on this journey of my spouse and I, as we face the challenges and rewards of starting a business on a shoestring budget. I’ll make it funny and informative as to the ins and outs, on how deal with your spouse during the Startup phase. I’m retired with too much time on my hands and she’s got one foot out towards retirement, but in reality it’s still months away. If you haven’t figured it out, we’re no spring chickens. I did mentioned we have two dogs, one who needs all your attention and the other sleeps all day and then at night wants to play. For anyone who’s surfing the net and you come across our blog, stay for a while and check us out, I’m sure you’ll have plenty to laugh at. Hope to see on our blog.