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EXECUTION How I made 6 figures at age 20

Discussion in 'Progress/Execution Threads' started by Akeem, May 15, 2019.

  1. Akeem
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    Akeem Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED

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    I'd just like to mention that this post does not sponsor/sell any courses or get you to subscribe to blah blah blah. I've been around this forum for a few years and have yet to create a thread introducing myself so I thought I'd do it today and tell you all a short and to-the-point story of how I went from being an almost average 20 year old to making 6 figures, which I assume is definitely not a 20 year old's average accomplishment.

    Quick background
    I'm a 20 year old student, born and raised in the UK. I've made small mistakes, big mistakes and every sort of sized mistake you can think of and instead of whining about it, I just kept going and it got me to places I never thought I'd get to, at least not at this age. For the most part, I'm your average 20 year old. I study at university. I love computers, technology and coding and I've made a few bucks here and there selling software or software subscriptions to local businesses and clients across the globe. I also design websites, although I'm more comfortable with the backend.

    So how did I make 6 figures before my 21st birthday?
    Did my father give me the money? Nope. Did I get a lucky VC to believe in me? Nope. Did I make an endless amount of mistakes before hitting gold? You bet.

    During the summer of 2016, I ordered a RPi. For those that haven't come across it, it's a little circuit board with computing components, in essence it's a palm-sized computer. At the time, I wanted to see what sort of gadget I could make out of it. Maybe a security camera or an AI robot, I mean whatever, it only cost like £30 anyway. After about 3 hardcore weeks of making random gadgets and getting bored, I sat there exhausted with the RPi sitting on the desk and I just thought for a moment. It's a £30 computer. It's a f*cking £30 piece of powerful equipment. Why don't I create a genuine product from it? Something that brings value to people? It was around 3 in the morning and it hit me that this moment of epiphany may be because I was high as a kite because I had no sleep so I decided to sleep on it and if I felt the same way in the morning, I'd definitely work on it.

    Safe to say, that same morning, I felt the exact same way. I believed I could turn a £30 computer into something that makes me money. At the time, I was thinking a standalone product priced at around £100 which would pocket me possibly £50 or a bit less. I ended up, however, doing something a little different.

    The idea that made me 6 figures by 20
    Ever walked in to a public building and seen a TV with a presentation that changes slides every 5 seconds?

    The formal name for that sort of stuff is digital signage. It's a form of displaying information or advertisements using TV screens, monitors, projectors etc. My idea was to use a RPi to turn any TV, monitor or projector into an advertisement displaying piece of tech. In essence, every business I approached was potentially free ad space for me. In return, I'd give them a percentage of any profits made.

    So, before I approached my first client, I wanted it to look all formal, professional and the 'real deal'. I got a designer to design me an electronics-safe case for the RPi and I bought slap-on heat stickers for the brand/logo. By the end of it, I was down about £60, but I had a product which I could show clients.

    I cold-called about 25 businesses on a Monday. 18 said no, 7 were interested. Out of those 7, I closed the deal with 4. One thing I noticed was these guys either were completely unaware of the benefits of technology for their business or they didn't have a TV screen/monitor, I blame the failure of those on myself. I should've done better research. Lesson learnt.

    I installed and set up the product for all 4 clients, but what about ads? I mean digital signage is cool but I had nothing to show. So, during the first few days after installation, I ran non-stop 'advertise here' videos and was hopeful about someone approaching. It took about 4 hours for a local plumbing company to get in contact then another 2 hours for another local business and before 2 days had passed, all 4 screens were making money. For those wondering, I was making about £10 per client per week. Nothing life changing, but definitely a start for someone who always wanted to earn money away from a 9 to 5.

    I kept repeating the process throughout the summer, winter and so on. After about 2 years, I had several hundred RPis connected to TVs and monitors all around the county and almost every single one was making £50 at the minimum, meaning the moment I set it up, I had made my money back for that product in the first week. It's worth mentioning I had to constantly reject certain businesses due to there physical location not raking in enough traffic. In other words, nobody wanted to advertise in a place where there were not many passers by.

    So there's that story of how an average 20 year old made 6 figures from an idea.

    I will keep updating this post as and when I can, I'm fully aware there are details omitted from this post which I'm sure would be insightful, but for the time being I'd just like to see the response I get from this post.

    Of course, as always, questions are welcome. I'd also like to apologise if there are any grammatical errors or if my style of writing isn't favourable, it's my first post and I don't have much experience writing on public forums.
     
  2. Phil K
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    Very nice! I've read a lot about how people say "find a market first and THEN find a product to sell to that market". It seems like the method you used turned that on its head. How were you so confident you would get bites from businesses? How long did it take for you to develop the product/program using the RPi?

    Again, congrats! That's a hell of a win!
     
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  3. Akeem
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    Akeem Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED

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    I was more energetic and confident about myself and my product that I didn't really give myself much room to think about possible failures. The truth is, I didn't know exactly what would happen when I went in there and I didn't know whether others would listen and advertise. All I knew was that the product was genuine and for those that wanted it, it would provide them the value they were looking for. I guess I turned a blind eye when it came to finding clients to advertise for. I just went with it and hoped the right people would see it. Even if it failed, at the time, I wouldn't have been too bothered. At least I went out and tried.

    As for the design and development I used Raspbian OS which is the most common amongst the RPi community. It's not exactly newbie friendly but I knew what I was doing (kind of) so I worked my way through it. It took literally about 8 or so hours to reprogram bits and bobs of the RPi and to disable one or two useless CPU requiring tasks. In essence, I turned it from a computer OS to a computer OS with no features except one program and turn on/off the external USB fans when needed (to prevent overheating/fire/electric risk).

    Hope that answers your questions and thank you :)
     
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  4. Phil K
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    That's a great outlook - congrats on having that attitude about everything.

    I have a programming background (by schooling) as well and have heard a lot about RPi in the past few years. I've never used one, but know it's a very powerful tool/device (it took me until now to realize what you meant by "RPi" haha). I've often wondered what kinds of things/products I could create on such a device and sell it to the masses, but I've always been stuck at that step - not knowing what I could do with it, not knowing what it's capable of, and how I would go about selling my product...
     
  5. Akeem
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    Akeem Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED

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    One thing I did was just surf the web for RPi projects. All the little (somewhat useless) ideas actually kind of pushed me in the right direction until I decided which one was most viable.

    I'd suggest ordering one and seeing how it goes from there. There's plenty of simple OS' for it and I just recommend messing around with it. Sooner or later you'll get the hang and from then on, start experimenting with ideas.

    Word of warning, don't bend it for fun. It's fragile and snaps in half easier than a pencil, you don't want to know how I know.
     
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  6. astr0
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    astr0 Grinding Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    There are some working businesses here in Ukraine doing that, but probably with more expensive equipment similar to NUCs. They also have ads in public transport which is probably huge (public transport is run by private companies here).

    I've had a similar idea, but with large RGB dot-matrix displays running from RPi outside on the major roads. Definitely more attractive than static/rotating billboards and, unlike Japan and US, we don't have them here. They are also not that expensive nowadays.

    The market for this is huge, so scale scale scale ;)
     
  7. Akeem
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    Akeem Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED

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    The UK is very similar. I'd say JCDecaux is the bigger company here.

    RGB dot-matrix was something I was looking at but I didn't know how many nits they were (brightness) as I wanted to place them outdoors and they needed to be seen even when it was sunny/bright outside. For some reason, I couldn't find ones with a higher resolution so images were never close to 720p.

    The market is definitely humongous, so yes, scaling is definitely the goal now for me ;)
     
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  8. Kingsta
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    Kingsta Bronze Contributor

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    Congrats on your success! Looking forward to following your progress.

    In the cases where a business did not have a TV, did you put your own?
     
  9. PaperClick
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    PaperClick PARKED

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    Awesome story!

    How did you get the ads onto the RPi? Do you have to manually load the files onto each device through say USB, or were they connected to the internet and you manage it all remotely?
     
  10. Logomet
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    Great job man! Really interesting idea, love it!

    Few questions...

    1. What exactly does your computer do? Cant those businesses just put an USB stick with video ads to play all day long?

    2. What were they using those TVs for before you showed up? If they were displaying some kind of info, how they can put ads?

    Thank you!
     
  11. PizzaOnTheRoof
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    PizzaOnTheRoof 1% Better Every Day Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Great idea! Those small recurring payments add up over time.

    He's using a concept that Jay Abraham preaches called Hidden Assets or "Other People's ____"

    Take an asset that someone isn't using (a TV), and find a way to leverage it (an advertisement) and offer the owner a cut of the profit.

    Here's a list of ideas: https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/jayabrahamassets/Documents/OtherPeoplesResourcesOPR.pdf
     
  12. Akeem
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    Akeem Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED

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    At the very beginning, I was definitely considering doing just that, but with a 24" monitor (as I didn't want to spend £500+ just for 1 business). I ended up, however, not doing that and just focusing on those businesses that already had a TV/monitor. It wasn't until a good few months into the venture that I started offering plans and packages for businesses who wanted to get in on the idea but didn't have a TV/monitor.

    The RPi has something called a 'kiosk mode'. It simply loads up whatever you want in full screen which is perfect for anybody wanting to turn the RPi into a product. I used that same 'kiosk mode' to load up the software that runs the ads.

    Each file/advert is not loaded onto the device. The device is connected to the internet through WiFi (which is also a requirement for the business or else it won't work as intended) and I sit in the office and manage all advertisements remotely.

    The computer loads up what I like to call the 'advertisement network'. Once the screen is active, it notifies the server and the server runs the ads assigned to the business. Different clients want to show their ads in different places so having a database to manage all the content is much more convenient. In regards to the business sticking a USB for ads themselves, sure they can. I remember answering a question from one of the business owners about this. I told her she very easily could, however, she'd have to find every client and manage them herself which isn't always easy and you have to know the technicalities too.

    Most of the TVs/monitors that were in the business before the RPi were simply playing some music or a channel on TV. Some businesses used little monitors as menus, which I never wanted to touch as its obviously there for a purpose. I specifically targeted businesses that had 'extra' TVs/monitors and had no real purpose except entertainment, which almost every business owner didn't mind replacing with something that made them a little bit of extra income.

    Indeed the little payments definitely do add up, slowly but eventually.

    You're right about the concept. It's something that is overlooked a lot which is ironic because it's sometimes the exact thing you need to not overlook and make use of.

    I recommend having a quick read of The Abraham Mind Shift Challenge. It's a neat little book which opens up your mind to the world of business, in a bit of a different way.
     
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  13. Logomet
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    Logomet Bronze Contributor

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    Thanks for the reply, really appreciate it.

    One more questions...how did you find all that places that have TVs? You call and ask if they have a lobby with unused TV?
     
  14. PizzaOnTheRoof
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    For anyone looking for the mind shift challenge pdf: http://thegaryhalbertletter.com/AbrahamBookInternalUseOnly.pdf
     
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  15. Akeem
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    Akeem Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED

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    I started off calling local businesses which I knew had a TV/monitor. For others, they came from word-of-mouth to which they already knew they had to have a TV/monitor.

    All other cold-call clients which I called, I asked, yes. Once I started to get 'no' a lot, I knew it was a gap which I was missing, so I came up with the 'plans and packages' idea which offered a TV/monitor in exchange for their percentage of the advertising revenue until the TV/monitor was paid off.
     
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  16. Logomet
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    Logomet Bronze Contributor

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    Very nice. Thank you for the reply and wish you all the best with the business!

     
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  17. chimichangatime
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    Nice! I actually did this at work, but for motivational and business-relevant slides (progress toward bonuses, for example). I convinced my boss it was a great idea, we got the owner to buy a massive 65" TV and pay for the RPi. I set it up in Kiosk Mode in Chromium pointing to an internal web server that hosts a carousel embedded in a website. I just put pics in a network folder and it picks them up. The RPi itself mounts to the back of the TV and is on the WiFi.

    I love your idea of monetizing this thing for other businesses. So much slow lane thinking on my part :( I have so many skills I should be using to stop making the CEO of this place rich.

    Do you take over TVs that were displaying the music stations on satellite or sports programs? Do you swap back and forth between content like music and sports and back to the RPi? Or do you take over the TV entirely?
     
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  18. Akeem
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    Akeem Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED

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    Before setting up, we have an agreement with the business in question in regard to timing. Some businesses don't mind their spare TV (or a TV they're financing) being used to generate ad revenue for them and us whereas others want the TV running ads for a period of time.

    Whatever it states in the contract, we both abide by those terms. The system has certain scripts such as if the TV is turned off or the ads aren't displayed, it triggers a notification and logs it so we know if they're pulling any fast ones as I can't be there 24/7 to make sure the ads are running.
     
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