“Success doesn’t depend on how many resources you have. But how resourceful you can be.” – Tony Robbins.
1. The Big Idea
I am a young naive kid still in high school. It is the days of Napster (remember that p2p music sharing software that rocked the internet?) And I have a big idea for a website.
The Big Idea: Can We Napsterize Advertising?
- Let’s send an email to members with 12-15 ads in each email. Each member can receive a maximum of 5 emails per day.
- For every email that a member reads, send her ad to 10 other people.
- Let members refer their friends to this service. For every email a referred friend reads, send the referring member’s ad to 1 more person.
- Have the referral network 3 levels deep.
The idea looked good to me. But there is a problem. I’m a kid with no resources and no money. And no credit card either. And the idea would take $1,000 to $1,500 to bring to life.
What to do?
What I did was tried learning programming on my own. That was a big disaster. I soon gave that up. But not before I’d wasted a couple of months. (Mini lesson: Play on your strengths. Outsource everything else.)
I could always borrow money from my parents. But I didn’t want to do that.
So what could a high school kid do to get the website made?
The answer came from an unlikely source. It came from a Bill Gates joke!
2. The Joke
Father talks to his son about marriage.
- Father: “I want you to marry a girl of my choice”
- Son: “I will choose my own bride!”
- Father: “But the girl is Bill Gates’s daughter.”
- Son: “Well, in that case…”
Next, Father approaches Bill Gates.
- Father: “I have a husband for your daughter.”
- Bill Gates: “But my daughter is too young to marry!”
- Father: “But this young man is a vice-president of the World Bank.”
- Bill Gates: “Ah, in that case…”
Finally, Father goes to see the president of the World Bank.
- Father: “I have a young man to be recommended as a vice-president.”
- President: “But I already have more vice- presidents than I need!”
- Father: “But this young man is Bill Gates’s son-in-law.”
- President: “Ah, in that case…”
3. The Solution
The joke sparked a light bulb in my brain.
I quickly logged on to the ICQ chat network and started finding programmers over there. I asked a simple question to all of them:
“What would it take for you to create a site
for me for free? What could I do in return?”
The first 7 or 8 programmers let me know that they didn’t work that way. But one project manager working for a big programming company in Ukraine made me an offer:
If I found 2 paying clients for him, he would assign a junior programmer to create my website for free!
I then spent the next few days contacting anyone and everyone I knew and asked them another simple question:
“Do you know someone who knows someone who
needs programming work done?”
I did manage to find 2 paying clients for the Ukrainian company. And they did keep their word and create the website for me.
And within the first month, that website became moderately successful. Attracting close to 540 members in its first 3 weeks!
Would you like to see a snapshot of the website?
4. The Not So Golden End
Every time I’ve told this story to others, I’ve always been asked:
Why is MaxMailer.com no longer functional?
The answer is embarrassing: because I was young and stooopid.
I ran it for a few months. And the site was profitable from week 1 – as I had very little monetary investment in it. But then, I started having hosting problems. The site grew too big too fast. And my servers would go down every other day.
At the same time, I moved to Michigan, USA. So I gave up on it.
If I would have stuck with it, I could have sold it off for a lot of moolah!
- Think Barter. You can always borrow or barter for resources.
- Ask for help.
- Play on your strengths. Do what you are good with. Or else, you’ll just end up wasting time.
- Just do it. Take action. Keep on moving.
Chapter 2: What Is The Best Business Card In The World?