Monthly Archives: November 2007

Make Money From Confiscated Stuff at Airport?

Perusing Digg I found this article on Yahoo that lists the agencies that sell all the confiscated stuff at airport security lines. The majority of the confiscated items are knives or other sharp objects like box cutters and scissors.

I noticed my local government agency that sells all these items back to the public called the Texas Surplus Store was not even 5 miles away from where I live, so I paid them a quick visit. I wasn’t sure what I’d find there.

I went there and it was a large warehouse with some airport confiscated stuff in the front, and a giant warehouse full of furniture, industrial machinery, cop car parts and other random stuff. Everything there was either retired government equipment, foreclosed items, defaulted loan items or seized property….all at super discounted prices. This government agency gets all the stuff, and it’s their purpose is to get rid of it quickly. It reminded me of a big pawn shop, except much cheaper.

Ever lost your sunglasses in a city or state building or airport? If no one steals them first, they end up here…for $1 a piece!

FYI, if you lost your $200 titanium Maui Jim sunglasses in the Austin airport a little while ago….I just bought them, for $1.00!

Had a pocketknife, box cutter, nail clippers or scissors confiscated at the airport? You can buy them back here for about $0.25 to $1/piece. There’s big tubs full of THOUSANDS of them.

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So the reason I went here was to see if any money can be made from these items by reselling them on eBay. Something that caught my eye were these big bags of assorted pocket knives for $10. I couldn’t count how many each bag had inside, but it was a lot. So as a little money experiment I bought a $10 bag of knives plus one Leatherman Micra pocketknife for $5 (just to get more keyword searches on eBay).

I counted all the knives, and it turns out I got 74 knives for $10. The extra Leatherman knife made it 75 knives total.

I took some pictures of the knives for the eBay auction, and I found out it’s actually a pretty boring process trying to open up 75 pocket knives, so I just opened up some of the larger ones for a more dramatic picture effect. There were actually some very high quality knives in there, I was impressed.

Then I went ahead and stuck the whole lot of 75 knives on eBay with a $10 minimum bid and flat $10.95 shipping charge. :
eBay Auction 170168750293

I also went ahead and made a quick video of the knives, slapped it on YouTube and posted it in the auction:

In a few days I’ll see how much this $15 experiment returns!

—–UPDATE 11-20-2007—–
The eBay auction bid up to $26.55 + $10.95 shipping for a total of $37.50.

It cost me:
$10 purchase price
$12 shipping
$1 fees
—–
Total costs: $23.00
Bought for: $37.50
—–
Total Profit for Experiment: $14.50

Barry Salzberg and Some House Of Rave Updates

A couple of short updates:

I went to see Barry Salzberg, CEO of the giant accounting firm Deloitte & Touche speak on the University of Texas campus. He spoke to a surprisingly packed house about the company etc. etc….mainly typical CEO talk.

The Q&A session was far more interesting and we got to hear a little more about him. It was pretty impressive because he came from a working class family with none of his parents being college educated, his dad died at a young age and he managed to his college degree, MBA and even law degree. As most of the CEO’s I’ve seen speak, he steadily started rising through the company by simply doing the best job he could at every step of the way, all the way to the top.

It was funny, because I was in the back of the room for the speech, so this way my view:

…however when I got closer I quickly realized who he looked like!

HA!!

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I’ve been working on changing up HouseOfRave a little to start going for version 3.0. One of the things I did was change up the right navigation pane with more illustrated banners:

I’m not exactly sure if I like it or not the new way. The old version shows off the products a little better, however the new version might make people curious to see what each banner holds when clicked.

I’ve also replaced some of the YouTube embedded videos on the site with my own HouseOfRave branded video player. YouTube shows related videos at the end of each clip which distracts users and takes them away from my site. It also puts its own brand on the video player which looks slightly unprofessional. You can see an example of the new video player at the glowing hair gel product page.

I’ve also added a Disco Balls section to the site and some more miscellaneous products. A bunch of much needed functionality updates, templates and features are on the way, but a more versed programmer is handling those.

3-D Printing, the next big thing

Trying to predict the future is fun, because it can be really profitable. One of the things I think has the potential to be the next technological revolution like electricity or the internet is 3-D printing (also called rapid prototyping).

In the early years computers were only used by large corporations or the government. Same with 3-D printers. They are still large, very expensive, difficult to use, and not useful to individual consumers yet.

When the large computers of yesteryear existed, people didn’t think individual consumers had any real use for that technology. Obviously as they got smaller, more powerful and cheaper there were thousands of uses created.

The cool thing about this emerging technology is it’s following the same pattern as the personal computer. In this sense you can almost predict the future by looking at history.

If you don’t know what 3-D printing is, checkout some videos on the subject. This video is a promo video for a Zcorp 3D printer. If you already know what 3D printing is, you can skip the video.

This following video shows the possible use of 3-D printing for building homes and other structures. Instead of taking months to build a home, tracts of affordable homes can be constructed in hours or days.

You can find more info and amazing videos about this at http://www.contourcrafting.org/
The cool part is they already have this technology making small-scale buildings out of concrete and other construction materials.

Want to print out some condominiums?

Or maybe put up some warehouses in 1/10th the time of traditional construction?

The prices of 3-D printers are dropping, but they’re still well out of reach for individual consumers. One of the things that are allowing these printers to be built for (relatively) cheap is the Fab@Home open source 3-D printing project. They’ve basically given a whole FREE set of plans, instructions and software to allow you to build a working 3-D printer at home.

The printer can print small objects out of silicon, chocolate or other heat-malleable materials. This sounds trivial, but remember that Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak (founders of Apple) both got their start by making do-it-yourself computers and selling them completely assembled.
This whole 3-D printing thing means that now you can share not just information, but THINGS over the internet. Right now you can send a news article to a friend across the planet by sending it to them and they print it out. Similarly, soon you will be able to “send” actual THINGS like jewelry, toys, medical instruments etc.. That’s an ENORMOUS advancement in technology which will end up having countless useful and entertaining applications across almost every industry.

  • Telephone: Allows for transmission of voice over long distances.
  • Internet: Allows for transmission of information over long distances.
  • 3-D Printing: Allows for transmission of THINGS over long distances.

As a small example, let’s say I need some scissors for a project, but oops, I don’t have any!

As you can see I just hopped online, printed some scissors out on my 3-D printer and was on my way. As time goes on, these printers will be able to print out increasingly complicated devices, complete with computer circuitry and complex moving parts. Instead of having to buy a new starter for your car, in time you may be able to simply “print” one out at home!

HOW TO PROFIT:
This technology is still far from individual consumer hands and will take a few years to get there, so there’s no hurry to do anything now, however here’s some ways I’ve thought of that could make money from this new technology.

  • Make a website that people can upload and share their 3-D print creations in the form of files.
  • Buy stocks of companies that create 3-D printers or 3-D printing related products or software.
  • Build Fab@Home 3-D printers and sell them fully assembled.
  • Buy an industrial 3-D printer and allow other people to send you their CAD files to be printed into models.
  • Make your own 3D print art.
  • Make your own 3D print jewelry.
  • Get the CAD drawings from buildings under construction and print models of the building.
  • Use your imagination!

I for one am very excited about this technology. Perhaps I might buy one of these printers just to start tinkering around with it….who knows what could come of it!

Never Having a Job, good or bad?

Person: You’re your own boss? That’s awesome…it must be nice not to work for anyone.
Me: I guess so.

Since I’ve never had a real job it’s hard to say it’s nice since I don’t know the other side.

I suppose it’s nice I’ve never had a real job, but there’s a big problem: I’ve never learned the procedures and discipline you get by working for a company.

I’ve always contemplated taking on a job just for the experience, but this obviously takes away a lot of time from doing my own businesses. Perhaps I can find a fair medium where I can get the experience, but further advance my knowledge.

When I was in college and heavily active in a lot of financial clubs, a lot of big companies would try to hire the active people such as me…..they didn’t even care I was a government major instead of a business major. However these companies require you to be at the office at 8am or earlier and leave at 5pm or later. They also teach you relatively little about running your own company, or anything particularly interesting besides stock. Even then, general entry level positions at these companies keep you busy with all the boring work no one wants to do….this isn’t bad, but if you’re not learning from your surroundings whilst doing the grunt work, it doesn’t seem worth it. They ALSO don’t allow you to run businesses on the side. Seriously, the people at Morgan Stanley said they’d hire me, but I was absolutely not allowed to run businesses on the side. Obviously a deal breaker for me.

One of the places I ABSOLUTELY ADMIRE and want to be more involved in is the IC2 Institute and the Austin Technology Incubator. I won’t go into much detail, but these two organizations are divisions of the University of Texas and spin out some amazingly interesting companies and programs worldwide. I think these two organizations do some of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen, but sadly hardly anyone knows about them except people in the entrepreneurial fields.

Being at one of these organizations, especially the Austin Technology Incubator would put me directly into a place filled with startup companies, investors, buyers seasoned industry experts and tons of accomplished and intelligent people.

I want to be around a place like that.

I’m thinking if I got some sort of small job or internship at one of these places, it would be immensely useful in helping me get the discipline and procedural training I want from a job, but allow me to run my own businesses at the same time. I would also be in a place swarming with ideas and innovation.

Ideally I would like to work or intern at one of these places for around 4 hours a day. A paid position would be fantastic, but I’d be willing to work for free, just don’t tell them that!