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Mail-In VHS "Box-O-Tapes" Business Idea

Discussion in 'Ideas, Needs, Concept Feedback' started by Costafarian, Mar 22, 2019.

  1. Costafarian
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    Costafarian Contributor I've Read UNSCRIPTED

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    Hey all, it's been a while.

    Today I spent the day miserable at work. And usually this is a good thing as I am best at coming up with ideas when I feel desperate or angry.

    I came up with an idea that is within my expertise and I already have the sufficient equipment to do this. And digitizing VHS tapes has been a sort of hobby with my own old tapes before. And I had considered this an idea in the past, but I wasn't sure if anyone was willing to pay/have interest in this kind of service.

    So I came up with the "Box-O-Tapes" campaign. As I could sell this service better with a gimmick. Send in as many tapes as you want in a box, I digitize and send back a flash drive full of all those tapes!

    I would simply charge a flat rate for one box each. Not sure what is fair, but so far I am going with something high enough where it allows me to profit decently, but low enough where it appears to be a decent deal.

    Some obstacles I have run into as I further develop the idea.
    1. What happens if & when it succeeds and I am flooded with tons of boxes and hundreds of hours of tape to digitize?
    2. What would I charge for individual tapes? What would the minimum amount of conversions be, that would be worthwhile for a local mail in service?
    3. Staying local or testing the right customers (I am learning FB Ads right now) to see which customers would fit best for the service?
    4. How would I cover the cost of receiving shipments so customers have more incentive to pay the price and use my service? (There has to be an app or plugin or something for this one!)
    I intend to continue following through with this idea, despite these obstacles, and I will update this thread as it progresses. Feel free to leave input or advice.
     
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  2. Ecom man
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    Ecom man Platinum Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Why would someone mail their precious tapes to you when they can just go to their nearest Walgreens and have it done without having to send it to a stranger and hope they don’t screw up their priceless memories?

    What value do you provide them more than Walgreens (or whoever eles) does?
     
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  3. Primeperiwinkle
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    Primeperiwinkle Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Since when does Walgreens convert VHS?!?

    ETA: Sorry I’m sleep deprived. What I meant was..

    In reply to OP: this sounds like an idea you could start implementing right away.

    In reply to Mr Naysayer: Really? Walgreens?
     
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  4. 404profound
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    404profound Gold Contributor I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    Sounds like a good idea to build a system around. You could develop a site that takes customer requests and routes them to a network of employees. Of course, the challenge here would be growing your employees in sync with your sales growth. At first it would probably involve you doing a lot of heavy lifting to meet your delivery, but if you were strategic you could grow it.
     
  5. Ecom man
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    Ecom man Platinum Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Transfer Videotapes to DVD

    Walmart does it too...

    DVD Walmart | Videotape Transfer

    If two local stores already do it what reason would anyone have for sending it off in the mail and hoping their fragile memories don’t get literally crushed?
     
  6. Primeperiwinkle
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    Primeperiwinkle Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Well damn. I stand corrected and you used literally in a sentence. You have made your point well. Hopefully we can both move past this awkward moment.

    *bowing out now and zipping my mouth
     
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  7. 404profound
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    404profound Gold Contributor I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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  8. 100k
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    Maybe not everyone lives near a Walgreen / Walmart.

    And if those two big companies provide those services, it means there's a demand for the service.

    Good luck, push through the doubt - let the market shut you down, not opinions.
     
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  9. NewManRising
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    NewManRising Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    A few things that you can do...

    1. Even though big places like Walmart are doing it, you can still position yourself in a way to pull some of those customers to you. You can segment the market and do only certain types of VHS movies. Or, find some other way to sweeten the deal. Think of some type of service you can bundle with it. Anything to skew value will make your offer stronger. And, as someone mentioned, not everyone is near a Walmart.
    2. How you market this can make a difference too. You are rarely going to find a market where there are not a bunch of people doing the same thing. But, if your value proposition is different/unique, you can pull people your way.
     
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  10. NewManRising
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    NewManRising Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    Agreed. And, from the sounds of it, he would have zero/low start up costs. He may be running ads, but he could also just try marketing on social media first.
     
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  11. Costafarian
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    Costafarian Contributor I've Read UNSCRIPTED

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    Thanks for all of the replies. I spent a few hours last night going through the potential logistics of it. And right now I almost have it down pat except for the speed in which I can digitize the tapes.

    I don't have an efficient way to simultaneously upload multiple tapes at once. Most standard VHS converting devices can only record one tape at a time. Which if folks send me boxes of tapes, I might not be able to keep up in an efficient manner.

    Setup looks like this: VHS Player --> Converter ---> Computer w/ capturing software

    What I need: VHS Player-----> Converter -----> Computer w/ capturing software
    VHS player------------------>^
    VHS player ----------------->^

    I hope you guys understand that from the very crude diagram. But essentially the only way I could keep up with potential demand is by having a large and efficient setup. Which would take as long as it takes for a full 120 min tape to finish uploading.

    The hope is to upsell a backup or cloud service for a monthly charge. The USB stick idea would be a promotional method to attract folks who may need this service. I know there's a lot of startup costs to that, but I would know the extent of the worth once I get the marketing going on FB.

    The other thing would be that, it only costs me about $2.79 for a flash drive with 16gb of memory. IF one were to get lost in the mail I would have no problem sending another. Same with discs.

    The advantage of digitizing old home videos is that once you have it digitized you can make millions of copies of the files for free. The only cost to me would be the material I send it back in and potentially the shipping.

    Also, if I can do it fast enough I can charge less than Wal-Mart and others because most of those larger companies tack on services that the customer may or may not want at all. Which bulks up the price.

    What I would offer customers is control over their own media.
     
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  12. rjrobbins2
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    rjrobbins2 Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED

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    Since Walgreen's, Walmart and likely other big box retailers offer this service, you need to find a way to stand out. I also echo the part about people trusting you being an obstacle. But, it can be overcome.

    I would suggest offering upgrade services such as building a BR/DVD type menu or editing peoples videos together into something more watchable than snippets of family events.

    I would build a website for the service, start getting people you know and get a lot of testimonials on your site. You could even make a video of the process showing you have both the equipment and skills to do it. Make you can get a customer to allow you to show some videos on your website so you have a sample of the finished product.
     
  13. Ecom man
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    Ecom man Platinum Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    I was more speaking from the customers point of view and the item being shipped to you not you shipping to them. Once the item is to you safely of course you can just back up the files on an external hard drive in case of emergency but if a box is crushed or lost in the mail on the way to you all of the memories are gone.

    I’m not trying to be negative (honest lol). What I am trying to do is point out the issues with the idea so you can come up with ways to get around them.

    You still haven’t said how you would offer more value than Walmart, Walgreens, or even other online stores that do this. Having a lower price IMO doesn’t add much value as people who are doing this are more concerned about keeping their memories than they are a couple of bucks a tape.

    What are you provided the customer that will get them to buy? Why should they choose your new startup over a big box store? Over doing it themselves? Over hiring other online companies that already do this?

    Again, I’m really not trying to be negative. Just trying to get you to think from a customer standpoint. Far too often, people (myself included) just say go for it and see what happens but IMO you would be better served for everyone to approach it from the customer mindset and give you reasons why a customer would or wouldn’t make a purchase.
     
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  14. Costafarian
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    Costafarian Contributor I've Read UNSCRIPTED

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    Haha, no negativity taken good sir.

    I suppose the value came from the "Box-O-Tapes" idea. Which essentially was "Hey, send me a box of your old bulky obsolete VHS tapes! I'll send you back a flash drive so you can save space in your home! And preserve your memories."

    This came mostly as a result of spring cleaning, as I am going through my own box of tapes I wanted to digitize so I could throw away as well.

    As far as how they would trust a mail in service when sending their tapes? I haven't the faintest clue. Establishing the business as a niche brand that specializes in this very thing?

    I don't drive, otherwise I would stay local and pickup/deliver the tapes myself. I suppose I would use testimonials from customers I've dealt with in the past. Though now that I think about it, even those instances weren't done through mail.

    Mailing is just easier. And makes the potential to scale this into at the very least some part time income.

    I'm working on a dropshipping store as well, and I've learned a lot about the potential FB ads have for business. That paired with some spring cleaning inspired this.
     
  15. Bekit
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    Bekit Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    I like the idea. I was unaware that Walmart and Walgreens did this kind of service, so there may be lots of other people who are also unaware of this. If they run across your site before they discover that it's also at Wally-world, all the better for you.

    I'd run a pilot offer where you validate demand and pricing for a small volume of orders. Then evaluate whether you want to scale and what it will take.

    Since you only have one system, the limiting factor is time. Factor this in to your prices.

    In a week, there are 168 hours.

    Assume that you sleep 8 hours a night and the other 16 hours you are doing tapes nonstop.

    That's 112 waking hours in a week.

    That's equal to 56 two-hour tapes that you can do in a week, best case scenario. You'd practically have to be a robot to keep up with this.

    So let's say that you cut it down to 30 tapes so that it's realistic.

    OK, now you can set accurate customer expectations. "Your order will be returned to you approximately X days after we receive it."

    You can also set your pricing, or at least figure out whether it's worth your time. How much do you want to make in a week?

    If you want to make $1000 a week, that means you'd need to charge $33 for each tape.

    OK, that's not bad, since Walgreens is charging $34.98 for...
    • Custom DVD case with your images on the cover
    • Scenes edited by hand
    • Hollywood style DVD menu with scene index
    • Empty areas of video trimmed out
    Maybe people would pay you for this, maybe they wouldn't. You'd have to try it out and see.

    Given the fact that you cannot expand time, I'd be wary of the gimmick of letting people send you an unlimited-size box. A single person could send you those 30 tapes all by themselves, and then your week's worth of work would be gone. Unless you charge $1000 per box! :p

    Maybe put up your ad on craigslist to save on facebook ad fees while you're testing in the local area to validate whether you can sell this.
     
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  16. kelvinfernandezm
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    kelvinfernandezm Some Profound Quote Goes Here Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER

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    This might have potential.

    I was reading a book about Walmart and some people were saying how Walmart was taking customers from a local paint store.

    Than they went over to the local paint store to interview the owner and he said that Walmart actually brought them more business. Whenever a customer needed a more specialized paint the local paint store was the only one that could do it. So they payed a premium for more specialized services.

    If you can provide a value skew than this will work. Digitize their VHS and upload them on YouTube for them or charge them for cloud storage.

    Another area that has a lot of potential is digitizing old film reels. Nobody knows how to work with those now.

    Here's another idea. Digitize old film reels that the copyright has expired and upload them on YouTube. You'll make your money on views and ads. Or ask people to hand the rights to their videos over to you and upload the old VHS and family reels onto YouTube while they get a digitized version of their family films and you get the views.
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2019
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  17. Roli
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    Roli Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    I looked into this circa a decade ago, and the reason I didn't do it then was the time/computing power ratio didn't add up.

    The only way to digitise a video tape is to play the damn thing, ergo a 90 minute tape takes a minimum of 90 minutes to digitise, therefore you need a lot of machines doing the work for you, which is a big capital investment...

    In the end I couldn't see past that sticking point, maybe tech has moved on and you can somehow digitise when fast forwading? Although I'm struggling to see how you'd get audio as well...

    I personally wouldn't touch this with a barge pole, but good luck if you do.
     
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  18. Costafarian
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    Costafarian Contributor I've Read UNSCRIPTED

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    I contacted B&H with this conundrum and the capture card capable of doing what I wanted was $1k alone. Not counting the monitors and VHS's I would need. Roughly about $2k to start with. And thats assuming it all runs harmoniously and I don't hit any significant roadblocks.

    Needless to say I might end up just staying local until I get a solid level of demand to justify that cost minimum. As that would be BEFORE any marketing costs, which depended on my platform of choice (Google, Facebook, etc)

    Time was the biggest concern. I already knew I would have to specify a limit to box size. But getting 5 or even 10 tapes worth would take me a solid day just to get through.

    Craigslist sounds like a good place to start, so I'll see where that leads me.
     
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  19. Dignium
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    One value skew I’ve seen no one else do is to publish video file specs & technical specifications detailing how you’ll capture every grain of detail that is available in now-degrading tapes. I hate how Costco & Walmart Send back 480x360 when there’s enough detail in the analog frames for twice that resolution.

    I’ve been looking at getting my family’s film & negatives digitized and found nobody promises to capture every grain of detail available on the media in visible & nonvisible light, encoded into lossless .PNG files for a consumer-level price.

    Just another angle to view the business.
     
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  20. becks22
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    becks22 90% coffee, 10% everything else Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass Summit Attendee

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    Technology is always changing and what seems like the top line in tech now is a dinosaur tomorrow. There will always be a need for converting and updating old tech into new tech. It just depends on how big that need is and if it's worth your time to fill. Like someone else said, let the market decide for you if it's worth it.
     
  21. scott wisniewsk
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    I have heard of Legacy box that does that service . I think its a great idea you just have to get yourself out there in the world .And stand out from all the rest . Start small reinvest your profits and add equipment and employees . Great for side hustle , do that until it gets too big then go big or go home
     
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