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EXECUTION Launching a Vegan Company into the U.S. Market | 48 in 48

Discussion in 'Progress/Execution Threads' started by AndrewNC, May 26, 2018.

  1. MetalGear
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    MetalGear Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Agave, stevia leaf, molasses, or organic cane sugar syrup maybe?
     
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  2. AndrewNC
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    AndrewNC Limitless Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    Those are great options for sweeteners. I think they use honey for the health benefits of it as opposed to the sweetening aspects, since we are going to this production company for health 'boosts'. Some vegans eat honey (the community mark belongs to), AKA 'Beegans' and the majority don't; so hopefully we can find something else altogether.
     
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  3. MTF
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    How do you like, Peru, @AndrewNC? Do you generally feel safe or is there a subtle dangerous kind of a vibe in the air and you have to be more vigilant?
     
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  4. AgainstAllOdds
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    Genuinely excited for this thread.

    Happy to see you back Andrew and working on something of potential value.
     
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  5. AndrewNC
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    AndrewNC Limitless Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    Thanks! Just woke up to two great emails this morning from the first two potential affiliates, so things are going in the right direction.
     
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  6. AndrewNC
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    AndrewNC Limitless Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    I generally feel safe where I am. There are a number of districts in the city that are considered safe to be in. I'm in Magdelena Del Mar, San Isidro, Barranco, and Miraflores are good. Then, there are parts of the city where the locals don't even go to, so I naturally stay away from those.

    The main thing that I am told to do is leave my passport at my house and then carry around some other form of ID in case I need it.

    And to also use Uber specifically. As long as I stay away from the taxis on the street, transportation through Uber is said to be safe. One night I was driving home in an Uber around 1 a.m. after a date and saw a group of 7-10 teenagers fighting in the streets, but even that didn't seem dangerous to me. I was in a car and much bigger than all of them lol.

    I still feel that I have to explore the best parts (Machu Picchu, beaches to the north, etc.). In general, I'm enjoying it. It's really easy to meet interesting people here, and a certain number of men and women in their 20's, 30's speak english.

    There is a website called Internations which hosts meetup groups, and everyone there speaks english so far.
     
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  7. AndrewNC
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    AndrewNC Limitless Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    Best marketing video of all time:


    View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EblrZsko6z8


    "Ask for money, get advice. Ask for advice, get money twice."

    If it makes sense, it makes sense.

    I found the easiest way to get responses from the people I want to work with (affiliates) are when I start off the relationship with "asking for a quick piece of advice about marketing in the vegan industry" or to straight up be in a position to help them achieve their goals, and not even bring up the ask yet.

    aff-pic.png

    First message one - she is looking for money to help with her animal rights activism, has 38k followers, and our aff program can help her because it's a great product match for her followers, and she can earn a nice commission.

    aff-2.png
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2018
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  8. NanoDrake
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    Just WOW.

    My dearest compliments for the execution and the balls to start this journey.

    With regards of Perù, amazing country. Been there several times for business too and had my share of fun in Lima and I wish you the best over there.
    (The passport story is because some crooked cops ((they are everywhere in the world)) might take it and ask you for money to get it back)

    Will subscribe to this story!!
     
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  9. AndrewNC
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    AndrewNC Limitless Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    Building out an instagram influencer list.

    Just spent 2 days building out a list of 1,250 vegan influencers using the method outlined in this post here:

    An easy way to find Instagram influencers – Tracking Talk

    Now, it's time to start reaching out to them.

    It appears we have 50 samples of the product that we will be using to send out to potential affiliates, so hopefully that is enough.
     
  10. AndrewNC
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    AndrewNC Limitless Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    Writing a $100,00 check with no sales coming in.

    Today we are placing the first order of our food products in the amount of $45,000.

    This will result in over 13,000 units of goods. Our offers are bundled in cases of 8. So we have over 1,300 cases of inventory to sell from this first order. A large number of them are going to pre-orders from the kickstarter campaign, so we have 585 cases (of 8) to sell at a price point of $60 each on a monthly subscription basis.

    The sales goals for month 1 of sales (August 15 - September 15) are $50,000.

    Which leaves us with a few projected problem.

    1. Not enough inventory to fulfill our target sales goals

    585 cases x $60 = $35,100 that we are able to fulfill (not including any damaged items, lost mail items, and units sent to free for influencers to promote). In order to hit our sales goals, we need to place a second order.

    "A good problem to have" - Best case sales goals - We over-sell and we run out of inventory before the second order comes in. We would have to pause subscriptions, which would be no bueno, or find another solution there.

    2. Lag time for product to reach our warehouse in the U.S.

    We are going to place a second order of at least $45,000 (MOQs) by July 15th in order to be able to fulfill subscription orders for Sept 15 - Oct 15th if we hit our sales goal.

    "A bad problem to have" - We under-sell and we are sitting on over $70,000 in inventory.

    Mitigating risks:

    Our product can store at room temperature, with a 12-month shelf life, so as long as we can make sales within the next 12 months, the food won't go to waste and the investment will come back. But obviously we don't want to do that.

    The things @Kak keeps saying in his posts over the past year are making more and more sense nowadays with my experience here. Specifically, why start small when you can use capital from outside of investors so you can move much faster? Instead of boot-strapping, there is money behind this business (more than I have saved up for myself), so we are able to write a $100,000 check for inventory up front (which makes it a LOT easier for me when it's not my own money).

    But at the same time, this is someone else's money where they are expecting a return on it, and since I'm the one in charge of online sales and marketing, I feel a lot of responsibility to over-deliver and hit the right numbers within the first few months. I've never done an instagram influencer product launch before like this, so there is a little feeling of this being new, but deep down I feel the confidence that as long as I follow the right steps and keep moving forward, it'll pay off. We also have access to funds for paid traffic and existing connections/lists, which will help too.

    Adding members to the team:

    We had a meeting yesterday evening before going to a vegan potluck and I requested bringing someone else down here to add to the team, where I will put them in charge of building relationships with people in the Vegan community who already have access to warm traffic (influencers, bloggers, etc.). I would manage them to do the bulk of the marketing. The plan is to pay $500 per month for their housing and food, where they exchange their work for 4 hours per day, 1-3 months depending on their needs, their performance, and what they do.

    As long as we have that, I'll be able to allocate half my time to traffic with that person, and the other half of my time to optimizing the sales funnel/email marketing when the traffic comes in for conversions.

    Mark will be the point person in charge of product, fulfillment, finances, and delivery. Where I'll help him with that, but I don't want to have it drag away from my core role of making sales.

    Lessons learned here:

    Way too many to list.

    Focusing the day mainly on ordering the product, dealing with my car finance company back in the united states to get the car paid off with them, the title released, and transferred over to my sister's name (she called about problems with that), and then next week I'll be building out more relationships with instagrammers and creating email sequences to warm up our existing email list.
     
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  11. AndrewNC
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    AndrewNC Limitless Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    Distribution: Last night we got on a Skype call with the man who owns the fulfillment facility in Virginia Beach. While speaking with him, he was very confident and knowledgable about the process, and learned a lot from it. He asked us to forward him the details of the 20ft or 40ft cargo container, and how many cases, so he could reach out to the women he works with to cover the shipping from the port here in Peru to the port in Norfolk, through customs, and 15 minutes to his warehouse in Va Beach.

    The problem we might run into is that our products sell on a monthly subscription basis, so if we order too little and run out, it will take:
    • 2 Months between when we place our order and the company makes the product (they have been late on all their deadlines so far).
    • 15 days shipment to the United States
    • 7 days processing, going through customs, and shipping to his warehouse
    • 2 days getting ready for sale.
    So if we run out, then customers would not get 2nd or 3rd month orders, and then it might cause harm with affiliates if we can't fulfill.

    The other concern on the other side is if we order too much and can't sell it all, we would be paying fees and sitting on inventory too long. The good news for this is we have a bankroll for ad spend, so we can always ramp that up and sell products that way, even if the affiliates under-perform.

    Unexpected costs: The food manufacturing company we are ordering food from down here in Peru (out of nowhere) doubled our MOQs and requirements, which would put the first order price at well over $100,000...after months of setting the expectation for the orders to be around $45,000.

    The first thing we are doing is placing the purchase order in quantities for the original amount, since we were never notified of this until just recently. The secondary option, if our purchase order is higher than expected, is to work out a deal with our friends who own the distribution company where they would be the ones to finance the order, they would own the inventory, and they would get interest and shares in the company, so we can allocate our internal funding on ad spend and growth of the business.

    Mark will be flying up to the United States in the next month to meet with them, as well as another warehouse owner to propose those deals in person, as well as find a way to bring 50 samples to the U.S. to send to affiliates before our main order arrives in August.

    I like digital products.
     
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  12. Bdenner64
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    Bdenner64 Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Subscribed and excited to see this play out. @AndrewNC you already know I'm not really a vegan guy but hell this is a great opportunity for you.
     
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  13. Ronak
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    You just mentioned several red flags for your factory-- they can't hit their time commitments, and they jacked up the MOQ on you to double. This is just the start of the relationship, I would tread with mucho caution. They may be sensing overeagerness on your part and taking advantage.

    Do you have a few backup suppliers?

    Are you paying the full amount upfront?

    Are they offering any financing?


    I don't see how you can build a subscription business without having enough inventory to fulfill, you'll lose customers fast and ruin your reputation in the community.

    You can try approaching the #2 or #3 manufacturer and see if they're willing to give you better terms and grow with you. Since you're doing a subscription model, I'd imagine it's less risk for them.

    If I were you, I would set a limit of subscribers to what you can fill 2 months of demand. The rest can go on a waiting list, and you can stagger the affiliates somehow. Once your numbers are proven, you can scale up, and use that data to get credit from your supplier.

    Its also very important to project out your cash flow in detail, given your lead times. It seems like you still have to price out shipping and fulfillment, and that scares me.

    Overall, kudos on your progress, it's exciting, but you guys have some make or break decisions coming up...
     
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  14. AndrewNC
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    AndrewNC Limitless Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    Thanks for the input!

    We don't have any backup suppliers for this product and I'm not certain about financing on their end. We technically place the order and make payment with a large company in the US who oversees this company, so perhaps up in New York, we can work out a financing agreement with them. We have a meeting scheduled with them in person tomorrow. This is the largest food production company in the country with over $200 million per year in sales and serves customers like Walmart. So at least that provides us some form of comfort.

    I like your idea about limiting order flow, so perhaps we can make a major push for the initial sales in Month 1 through paid traffic and test out conversion rates there. With the paid traffic, we can shut off campaigns and control the flow of traffic.

    With affiliates/influencers, we can't effectively control the traffic flow, so perhaps run a few small tests with them and then ramp up that part of our marketing in months 2-3 when we stock up on more inventory after a 2nd order (which will have a 90 day lag time from what I understand).
     
  15. Ronak
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    I would be on the lookout for alternatives, just in case. At minimum, payments should be staggered on a 30% deposit/ balance on shipping basis, just so they have some skin in the game. With upfront payment, you have zero leverage and will be at the mercy of the supplier.

    Is there something about Peru that makes it better for your product, or can you have it made anywhere? Maybe get at least 1 US based supplier for faster lead times as a backup to backfill demand.

    I'm no expert on paid traffic, but my guess is it will cost you your first month's margin or more to acquire a customer, at least initially, maybe others can chime in on that, so make sure you're ready for it.

    Affiliates can be staggered by bringing them online a few at a time instead of all together, maybe a beta group to start. That can also play into your marketing to them, "the response from affiliates has been so overwhelming, we are struggling to catch up...etc"
     
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  16. AndrewNC
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    AndrewNC Limitless Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    Just did my research on this, and I found two other companies here in Peru that would have the same capabilities as a backup. Personally, I'm open to sourcing it anywhere, but Peru and Bolivia are the two countries where we could source our main ingredient from.

    Plan B - Open up talks with other manufacturing companies in Peru.
    Plan C - Look for manufacturing companies in Chile and the cost of exporting the raw materials from Boliva or Peru.

    Also, The original founder of the company has a vision and a passion (which is another force that comes into play when making decisions).

    His vision is to have food products sourced from four areas of the world:
    1. South America
    2. Medeterenian
    3. India, and
    4. Southeast Asia
    Part of the branding will have a story and experience of foods from around the world. He reached out to me after years of trying to get this company off the ground with my specific role being marketing and sales.

    The other factor is the cost of production is much cheaper down here + cost of labor.

    But I'm 100% with you about not having one point of failure. I've experienced that in past businesses, so I know the pain of facing that problem when it's already too late.

    For the two other companies down here we could potentially go to: This one we work with now has a $500,000 piece of equipment that does natural food preservation (without chemicals), so we'd have to check into if the other companies can offer that.

    For the paid traffic, I agree. We might break even to acquire customers on the front-end. The company has enough cash reserves on the front end to work with this for a few months, with the ultimate goal to have sales figures turn into a round of financing in 2019 to cover the ad cost when we have our numbers down.

    A lottttt of things to be working with, but I'll ask about manufacturer financing and other deals like that during our meeting with them tomorrow.
     
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  17. AndrewNC
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    AndrewNC Limitless Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    Three big topics come to mind lately.

    1. Being able to control your emotions & getting along with people in person.

    If you're not in control of your emotions, you're going to self-sabotage your business and key relationships.
    • If you have a history of frustration and anger; and you quickly lash out on others, it will take a toll on your ability to form good relationships. Some of them might be damaging when you can't take care of this part of yourself. Key employees will not want to stick around (I experienced this when I worked a pizza delivery job back in college and everyone hated the boss).
    • If you don't have the confidence in yourself and your abilities, it will show to others and will impact things such as ability to form partnerships, secure capital, and things along those lines.
    Yesterday, we went to the corporate headquarters of the food manufacturing company and met in person with the two key employees we are working with. Seeing them in person (instead of just email) formed a little bit deeper of a relationship with them and build out our confidence in their abilities to do their job effectively.

    There's more I'd like to say about this, but only behind closed doors.

    But overall:
    1. Good relationships with the right people are important, and the deeper they are, the better.
    2. Control your emotions.
    2. Having zero emotional attachment to the product.

    One thing I noticed about this product is that I personally have zero emotional attachment to it.

    I had breakfast this morning with Ken, the owner of the startup incubator house (no involvement with this company), and we were talking about how a lot of times the inventor of the product or the idea is not the best fit to run the marketing side of the company. There is emotional attachment to the ideas, and anything outside of the narrow vision is not acceptable, which severely limits the ability to reach the audience.

    For me, I want the product to succeed, but from an emotional attachment perspective; I honestly don't care.

    My view is to simply throw it out in to the market, and let the numbers and the data to decide.

    Get X amount of visitors to the website, and see how many convert from there.

    3. Developing a clear marketing message.

    But I don't want to throw things out there blindly.

    While waking up in the morning, do you ever have those 'in between sleep and awake' states where a stroke of genius or insight comes up to your awareness?

    The word today that came to mind is to have a very clear and strong marketing message that resonates with the market.

    I'll be doing a big instagram influencer push, so I'm going to reach out to 100 vegan instagram influencers with 20,000+ followers and ask them for advice on helping us start this new vegan food product company.
    1. For the first 50, I'll keep the question open ended, about how we should frame it.
    2. For the second 50, I'll narrow it down a little bit with a quicker explanation of the direction we want to go, and have them laser-focus it in from there.
    They are the ones with the audiences on the platform we are marketing on, so with my zero emotional attachment to the product and the marketing message (the inventor of the product has a stronger attachment to both), I will be open to let the numbers decide before we go out there spending a lot of money on promotion.

    4. Got our prices and MOQs in last night, which were a lot better than expected.
    $28 for the first month
    $16 and change for all future monthly shipments

    It's the same product, but the packaging is different for customer experience purposes (welcoming pack).

    At a $60 price point, this is a LOT less than the $40 we estimates, which will allow us to

    Today, I have a task of building out a sales page to run google adwords traffic to. The final pricing came in for how much we are spending on product.
     
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  18. AndrewNC
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    AndrewNC Limitless Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    Also, the wi-fi speed here in Peru is terrible. Goes on and off all day, which is taking a toll. When I lived in Granada, Spain, it was the same where I couldn't handle stable Skype calls.

    Nothing like Scottsdale internet speeds.

    Anyone reading this know how the wi-fi speed is in Berlin compared to that of major U.S. cities?
     
  19. WildHoneyTree
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    Thanks for this. Exactly the kind of info I was looking for....procedures to increase shelf life. Agricultural product I can source/grow at cost advantage. It won't be cashews but will do some research into what I have in mind and check about processing and shelf life prolonging that will be acceptable to health conscious people. Heating over certain temperatures, destroying enzymes etc may decrease value for a health food market in my case. But seeing all the research you have done, I have decided to stop being lazy and put in the time to do some testing and investigation.
    Also like the tip on appealing to a wider market instead of just vegan...make sure it's also listed (and made) as organic, cold pressed/unrefined or whatever, vegan, additive free, ethically spurced etc and all the things that would appeal to all the various concerns.
     
  20. AndrewNC
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    AndrewNC Limitless Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    Thanks for mentioning this, I never really thought about this before. It looks like there are various sub-niches within the vegan market.

    A company like Beyond Meats, who products the beyond burger and beyond sausage but a lot of additives in their food to make it taste good. While not healthy, it would appeal to the broader american market.

    Then, the more health conscious might eat this.

    Then there are the ones who want locally grown, where the nutrition value of the food is the highest.

    Then the raw, gluten-free vegans.

    For this product, we are much healthier than beyond burger, but appeals to the 'more health conscious' market...not the ones who are really serious about their health.

    Update on production:

    1. The main company said that their entire plant will be closing in July. I'm not sure if it's due to vacation, protest of labor laws by the government, or because it's winter here and their crops might have problems. But I do know that this means the 50 samples we were hoping to have by June 20th to send to food bloggers just got pushed back by a month.

    2. Never heard back from the bionaturals company, who were supposed to make an add-on product of ours.

    But one of the samples they gave us, gave me an idea for an entirely new product line, which would be independent of this company I'm working on now. It's so simple (literally one ingredient), yet genius because the way they package it is not benefit-oriented, and a simple new angle to sell it with a label could really appeal to a large market.

    I don't want to spread myself too thin, but at the same time, I woke up this morning with a text from a girl i went to college with who said she could really use that product...

    Perhaps I can send up 10-20 units to her in the united states for her and her friends to try out, and to let me know how it works for them (already validated it worked for me). If they love it and want more, that'll be a good sign. If not, then, minimal time wasted and only a few hundred dollars in expenses.
     

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