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Starting an online rocketry business

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HHaase

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And don't even get me started on the joy of trying to get an online shopping cart to estimate shipping costs accurately.
 

burkefj

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Or zero...this is probably the most aggravating part of being a kit manufacturer. Normally I design and kit things that I wanted anyway, but it's very true that sometimes the kits that you don't care anything about or are the hardest to kit are your biggest sellers...

"Your favorite idea ever will sell 3 pieces a year. The one that pisses you off the most will be your best seller for a decade."
 

Jeff Lassahn

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Crushing the dreams of people who want to casually make money at rocketry -- only one of the many useful services this forum provides.

I had brief fantasies about selling some kits on the side, and I'm actually really thankful for the dose of reality that came from watching vendor interactions on this site. It prevented me from jumping in and getting way over my head.

Oh, and thanks to all the vendors that somehow manage to make all this work! Your complete lack of sanity is what allows the rest of us to keep doing stuff.
 

dr wogz

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I also had a thought of starting a company..

I've been in engineering all my life, and have worked from actually "assembly" to helping with costing & marketing. (And I've done a fair amount of purchasing; I've dealt with Euclid, and I've dealt with plastics people. I know about "tooling costs" & such..)

The main reason why I didn't: I'm, in Canada and my main client base (you all) is in the US.. Shipping, exchange, and 'cross border' fees & such would be a nightmare. Manageable, but would add a fair mark-up..
 

Pem Tech

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My feedback, based on my first 2 years in HPR would be:

1) Communicate
2) Communicate quickly
3) Have live/accurate inventory status at all times
4) Communicate
5) Ship to Australia ;)
6) Care for your customer
7) Add that little bit of something "extra".

Provide these things and we the customer will bring $000's of repeat business.

1) Communicate - Absolutely! Treat your clientele like family or friends. You know, make fun of them, throw frying pans, be witty and humerus.
2) Communicate quickly - Most defiantly, even if you miss their email by couple of months.
3) Have live/accurate inventory status at all times - We are small enough not to need this, it is either on hand or can be put together quickly. But for higher volume business, it would be handy.
4) Communicate - Did I stutter? :)
5) Ship to Australia ;) - Yes, we do this, but be sure the customer understands the shipping cost and the time involved.
6) Care for your customer - Make them feel like more than a customer. Lend support and advice, but never your Llama. Never lend any rocketeer you Llama. It is just a bad idea.
7) Add that little bit of something "extra". - This small gesture will warm hearts and create loyal customers. We send out a LLama Certified Rockets decal with all orders and sometimes a LLama Security range box decal.
 

Cape Byron

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One kit up at present. A payloader going up at the end of next week and a rear-eject kit hopefully the week after.

Very small runs. I'm actually meant to be a farmer, rumour has it...
 

rklapp

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I also had a thought of starting a company..

I've been in engineering all my life, and have worked from actually "assembly" to helping with costing & marketing. (And I've done a fair amount of purchasing; I've dealt with Euclid, and I've dealt with plastics people. I know about "tooling costs" & such..)

The main reason why I didn't: I'm, in Canada and my main client base (you all) is in the US.. Shipping, exchange, and 'cross border' fees & such would be a nightmare. Manageable, but would add a fair mark-up..
If you dig a tunnel under the border, I'll sell your products for you (reasonable handling fee). Wait, I live in Hawaii. Nevermind...
 

dr wogz

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013Rocketry

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Thanks everyone for all of your input. It's a lot to think about. If I do start up a business it would be exclusively for my own kits. I wasn't expecting much profit. I just thought if would be fun selling my own kits and dealing with people in the hobby.
 

Cape Byron

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Thanks everyone for all of your input. It's a lot to think about. If I do start up a business it would be exclusively for my own kits. I wasn't expecting much profit. I just thought if would be fun selling my own kits and dealing with people in the hobby.
Sounds like you're doing it for the right reasons.
 

rklapp

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Thanks everyone for all of your input. It's a lot to think about. If I do start up a business it would be exclusively for my own kits. I wasn't expecting much profit. I just thought if would be fun selling my own kits and dealing with people in the hobby.
You seem to be doing well enough on EBay. Unless the fees are killing you, I’d stick with EBay. About how much inventory do you think you’ll need to accumulate before you’ll have to upgrade to a dedicated website?
 

RocketRev

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Hello Layne,

Looking at your icon, I was wondering if you were part of the directing crew for Monty Pythons THE HOLY GRAIL?

I was thinking that your icon looks like it might be one of the "40 Specially Trained Ecuadorian Mountain Llamas" as it appears to have an oxygen bottle on its back.

Brad
 

quickburst

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I've been in business fifteen years. You most likely will not get rich. You probably will do good enough to pay for most of your rocketry habit. There will be hard times, save for those. This Pandemic has put a lot of business owners out on the street. Keep in mind that if it wasn't for the customers you would not exist. Sometimes its better to please a customer than it is to loose one. Expect unexpected costs. Use a mark up that returns a decent profit there is a difference between overcharging and under charging. Try to price your goods at what ever the market will bear.

The bitterness of poor quality far outlasts the sweetness of low price.

Provide the best product you possibly can, don't cut corners, think about you being the customer that's buying your product. Learn the principal of "continuous improvement", try to improve your product at every opportunity. Use you product yourself and ask customers for feedback. They will teach you things you never would have thought of. Knowledge is never wasted. Provide a customer support phone number and email addy. Listen to what they say and try to accommodate them as best you can.

As far as funding goes, I prefer PayPal. It has a lot to offer, a shopping cart and a postage solution. Its a best fit for me. You can also send PayPal invoices for customers that aren't members and want to pay with credit cards. The Invoice and postage tool will save you a lot of money in the long run.

Good luck and best wishes,
 

cerving

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You have to ask yourself why you're doing this. Possible answers are: 1) I love rocketry, and I think I can serve an area/segment that is currently underserved; 2) I love rocketry and this may be a way to help pay for my addiction; 3) I love rocketry and I think I can make products that other rocketeers can use too; 4) I love rocketry and I think I can make enough money to quit my day job.

Note that "I love rocketry is a requirement"... if you don't actively launch, you're kidding yourself. Also, #4 doesn't work either, except for the maybe a handful of people out there who have managed to build relatively large rocketry supply businesses. Eggtimer Rocketry is successful because we fall under #1, #2, and #3... and we still have day jobs to pay the bills.
 

rklapp

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If mechanics drive the worst cars and plumbers have the worst plumbing, then do rocket shoppe owners have the worst rockets?
 

MikeT

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Has anyone tried selling their kits on Etsy?
The fees will kill ya. The profit margin on this stuff in thin enough. I stopped selling on EBay years ago due to the fees.

Mike
 

tbonerocketeer

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I sell on ebay, it is stupid expensive. I use it to hopefully draw new customers... I get returning ones but almost always through ebay. Rules that ebay has makes it impossible to drive a customer to your website.
 

rklapp

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Ebay is weird. People sell motor packs for $19. Why would anyone buy that?

I sometimes buy from hobby stores on Amazon Prime when the prices are good. I’m not sure if I’m actually helping them or not.
 
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