Done!!!

Electric Foldable Scooter Uniquethingsonline.com

 

Hello Unique People 

I hope you understand from my previous blog that I was done with Unique Things. It was no longer a company built to make a little extra income for retirement, but had turned into her company. She listened to every person with an idea and shot down my one request, which was to advertise. This was bad enough, but everything revolved around the company; our life had stopped. She was staying up until 3 and 4am researching and self-teaching herself the business. I know some would wonder, what was bad about that? But I just felt that we needed a break, a movie on Netflix at this point would have been okay.
What I do want people to understand is that, when you start a business with your spouse, it should be 50-50. There will be times when one partner puts in more money or work than the other, but as long as both of you are contributing in some fashion, then the business can progress along. When one person starts to feel some kind of way, then it’s time to backup and take a look at what’s going. It’s time to reevaluate the business. The business can’t be your relationship. It should not be that you come in the door and you’re not eating, just so you can get on the computer. It’s not fair to the other person or yourself. You need space to unwind and think about the direction you’re going in. I would think a relationship would be more important than a business that might get of the ground, there are no guarantees of success today in business. There are a lot of variables today, such as people holding onto their cash and unexplained violence in all corners of the world. You have to keep your priorities straight.

CEO-Anita Powell

Well, as you can tell from the paragraph title I am now CEO of Unique Things. How? I showed no interest whatsoever in the business. I was not involved, so why would I want to have a conversation about a business I was no longer a part of? The kicker came by way of a Facebook group she joined on starting a business. They looked at the website and told her what I said about some of the products on the website. There were items that she was putting on the website because they were cheap, such as an emoji purse for a 5-year-old. I mean, really? How does that factor into what Unique Things is all about. She was crushed, and then she wanted to listen to me.
Again, I pushed for advertisement, but she still seemed reluctant. I did feel bad, because I know how much work she had put into learning how to create and monitor a website. I was not putting as much money as before into the business. I wanted to see some advertisement. She then learned how to get advertising on Groupon, Ebay, and Facebook. You don’t know how time consuming those things are. Anyway, before all of the advertising, and after she got her feelings hurt, we sat down and had a talk. I said I would only come back to Unique Things if I was CEO. Okay, I know it’s only the 2 of us, but it was more symbolic to me.

Unique Things Website

The Unique Things website was running and she made some sales on her job. She was still buying, but at least now she asked my opinion before she bought, not after. Our money was low and our dogs weren’t eating steak anymore; they had to eat chicken breast. We did find time for a Netflix movie and a few laughs. The computer wasn’t being turned on as soon as she walked through the door. The times it was subtle like, “Let me show you something,” she’d say. Then she would just start whatever she needed to do. She changed the website; every other night it looked different. I, as the CEO, had to put a stop to that. I told her consumers like familiarity in online stores, which they couldn’t have if she was changing it so often.
In the next blog, we will take a look at some more of our products and I’ll talk more about the website.
Have a great weekend!

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Getting The Packages In/Out

Store A Key and ID In This Water Bottle Secret Compartment
Hello, Unique People:

 Today I want to talk a little about shipping. You’re probably wondering: what is there to shipping? You order something, and if you’re buying, you sit and wait for it. But if you’re the seller, there are so many things to consider, such as box size, shipping company and how much it’s going to cost.

Buying Unique Things

 Again, I want to explain that most of the products are products that you, the consumer, might have thought of but never believed could be a reality in this lifetime. Crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo are where we get most of our ideas. A quick search of Alibaba and usually we can find some semblance of the item. The Chinese do a great job of copying. How? Well, most of the crowdfunding site projects are made in China, so it’s easy for them to see the product before it comes to market here, and copy it. It may not be of the same quality or have all the same bells and whistles. Remember, we are talking about products that are new in vision and usually not out anywhere. We had no clue—I mean zero—how much shipping should or would cost. We’d order a product and the seller would quote us a price, but after breaking it down, the shipping was almost as much as the item itself. It was crazy. We didn’t know any better, and we were desperate to put as many unique things on our website as possible. We bought it. This is how desperate we were. Even when we asked for a breakdown of prices and knew that shipping was a lot, we still bought. A majority of things were paid for through PayPal, which made it easy. There was only one vendor that wanted a bank wire.

Shipping: Buyer and Seller

The boxes started rolling in on a regular basis; most items came by DHL. We had so many boxes coming in, the DHL driver started hinting about what was I doing. The boxes came wrapped in a roll of tape. I’m surprised they have any tape left in China, there was so much tape. When I’d finally get through the tape, there was the job of making sure the items worked. The first items we heavily invested in were levitating items. We had to go to YouTube to figure out how to make the items levitate. That was not easy. I will say, once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty easy. It’s all about the gravity. I’m telling you this so if you want one of our levitating products, go for it. It takes a minute to learn, but it is worth it. Unbelievable. My spouse was gathering the shipping items, boxes of various sizes, tape, plastic wrap, labels and thank-you cards. Unique Things was prepared to ship out our first items. The cost involved in shipping can be substantial, which is why when you see a store offering free shipping, it’s like Christmas. You love it. We have products and office supplies in one room that could be the next Staples. We will offer free shipping around holidays and not raise the prices to offset the shipping amount as some stores do. We want to be fair and honest in our shipping policy and will use the most economical way to ship. There will also be the factor of how long it takes for an item to get from Unique Things to you. No one wants to wait a week or more for an item unless it’s coming from China. When you shop with us, you, the consumer, are first. The next blog will be about sales. Woohoo or not.

Store Your Phone In This Water Bottle

 Unique Things Products for The Person Who Wants To Be Different

Hello Unique People,

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.

Flower Pot Floats And Spins
Your Memories Will Float In This Picture Frame
Floating Nightlight
Bluetooth Floating Speaker
T-Shirt Flashes To Your Music
 

One Less Thing To Carry Put Your Phone In This Water Bottle
One Wheel Skateboard with Lights
Bluetooth Backpack With Speaker, Charger and Remote

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.

Ordering The Next Step

Ordered Proucts

Ordering the Next Step

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.

Chinese Sellers

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 The Other Secret Site

 
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 Backer

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.

Scanadau Scout

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.

My Secret is Out

There’s this concept online called crowdfunding. In basic language, crowdfunding is a group of people that buy into another individual’s/company’s idea. I mean buy as in money and buy as in you like what they are selling. I actually can’t tell you how I got involved, but believe me, it had to be something I saw online that made me say, “Wow!” I was working then, though money was tight, but what I saw made me say, “I’ve got to have this!” The problem was my spouse, who wasn’t my spouse at the time, but we were dating and living together. I knew that spending money on a watch was not going to fly. Yes, the first geeky item I pledged to was a watch. This watch connected to your phone and you got notifications. This was before smart watches were the rage. What I did was to first talk up the watch by saying how it could keep me from missing messages on my commute from New York to New Jersey. Well, that didn’t work, so I did what I knew was fail proof: it was an early birthday present to myself. While I was wheeling and dealing with my spouse on this watch, I went to a newfound website of geek items and saw another watch. This time, not only could I get notifications but I could talk into it. Dick Tracy here I come! Now, I’m talking about two watches. Well, I only have one birthday, so how could I get her to see things from my point of view? Nope, it wasn’t going to happen, so I did the unthinkable and just kept my big mouth shut. The website that had grabbed my attention that I was not mentioning was Kickstarter. 
Kickstarter

Kickstarter
was started in April 2009 by Perry Chen, Yancey Strickler and Charles Adler. The Kickstarter headquarters is located in New York City. Kickstarter is a very user friendly site for project owners and backers. Kickstarter responds to questions and problems about their site very quickly and you can communicate with the project owner by clicking on the comments section or emailing him/her through the website. The comments area is also a place to interact, not only with the project owner, but with other backers, during the course of the project.
Kickstarter has a global community of people from more than 220 countries and territories. Roughly 35% of successfully funded projects now come from outside the United States, as do 45% of backers. Together, these backers and creators use Kickstarter to reach across borders and shape culture into what they want it to be, rather than accepting it for what it is. And as ideas from different cultures collide with one another, they inspire new conversations, creative approaches, and cross-cultural connections.
 

Kickstarter Project Manager 
I will discuss the technology area of Kickstarter; however, there are many types of projects that you can back, such as films, music, and books. The Kickstarter site enables people to discover and back as many projects as they believe will become a reality. When a person, or groups of people, decide to start a project on Kickstarter they must first build a project page, which includes a video with a description explaining their project. The next step for the project owner is to provide information about their budget and a timeline from beginning to end of the project. The project owner must then decide what kind of rewards they will offer backers, such as a choice of item color or engraving the item with the project name and year. These rewards are given when the project funding reaches certain milestones. Project owners have to keep in mind that they pay for all of the rewards offered to backers. When project owners think about the funds necessary to bring their project to fruition, they must consider everything because Kickstarter will not let their project become a reality if the funding goal is not met. A very important part of the project is promotion. A project needs active promotion because a project no one knows about will never get funded. Kickstarter’s fee is 5%, with an additional 3 to 5% for processing payments. If the project owner doesn’t meet their funding goal, they owe nothing.

Kickstarter Backers
There are different tier amounts that a backer can pledge. When a backer pledges early there is usually a perk from the project owner as a way of thanking a backer for coming aboard early. The different pledge tiers not only tell you the item, but an estimated month and year that you will receive the item. The shipping information will also be listed in each tier box, along with any accessories that might be given. Once he/she has met the project funding level, the project owner will give their backers updates as the project develops through each stage. Backers like to know they’ve made a wise decision in backing a project and hate it when shipping has to be pushed back time after time. My experience with Kickstarter is that projects are always pushed back for different reasons. The project owners try to give realistic shipping estimates, but often a project of this magnitude is new to many of them and they are not prepared for the problems that arise. You, the backer, have to be aware that there are also scam artist that will go through the motions of creating a project, but once funding is met and they receive their money, you never hear from them again. There is really no recourse for backers when a project owner takes the money and doesn’t fulfill his/her part of the deal. Kickstarter backing is partially about being first to get an item that no one might know about or have even envisioned. As I stated, not all projects make it to the backers. An example of this was a watch that I pledged for my daughter. It was supposed to be the thinnest watch out in 2013. The company wasn’t able to make the watch because they encountered too many hurdles that they weren’t prepared for. I recently received a letter informing us that after liquidating all of their assets, there was no money to give to backers.

Some might think this is throwing money away because these projects aren’t cheap, and if a project fails you can’t get your money back. I think of it like this: It’s no riskier than the lottery or going to the casino. You never know when you’ll hit the jackpot. There is a certain rush you get as the months go by waiting for your reward to make it from the project owner’s vision to you.

Hello World

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.