Rise of Empires: Applying Circular Economic Modeling to Operate an USB Power Bank Rental Service

vendortent I just got back from Tommorrowworld a few days ago and basically had one of the best times of my life. But I will talk about all of that later. In this article, I will talk about a USB power bank rental service I had to use at the music festival and how brothas and sistas can actually make the business model work not only in our hoods but transform it into a true global empire model. When brothas and sistas finish reading this article, either they going to read and keep staying simple or they going to start their first global empire using the patterns and practices we about to discuss. Pluggo plug I went to the music festival and my mobile phone battery died and I thought I was going to stay unplugged but I really need to take photos so I checked out the vending area where they did USB power bank rentals. Now, Tommorrowworld is a European operation and the service that rented the USB power banks were a European firm also. I tried doing research but I could not find a comparable service here in the USA. I do remember battery charging stations that charged at carts but now you have places that charge phones for free and people plug in their phones in nearby outlets. But the Pluggo service rent out an USB power bank that supposed to fully charge a phone a couple of times and you take it with you. So the way it worked is I pay $25 for the rental and that includes the rental fee of $15 and a $10 deposit. Then when I bring back the charger, I get refunded the $10 back to my card or I can receive a USB charger for $10 instead. Now if you look at the video above, you see how they operate the service having an array of chargers that look like it is using a battery bank that you setup for off-the-grid power for a house. This probably make them portable to do this service at festivals. Now, why don’t me and you look closer at the business model and do the numbers. Business Model amazon As you see, you can get these USB power banks on Amazon for about $15 – the cost I’m renting it for. On Alibaba, you can find more powerful USB power banks at a unit price cheaper than $15. So the first rental already paid for and the second time, you got $30 from the rental and made a 100% profit. But let’s say you can only charge and re-charge these USB power banks about 100 times then that is $1,500 in revenue of renting a $15 USB power bank. The average cycles of a USB power bank is 500 which is $7,500 but I would cut it down to just 250 charges for $3,750 max revenue potential of a $15 USB power bank. You should realize this rental business model is based on circular economics and Dream and Hustle discussed circular economics plenty of times on this blog as the model we need to pursue in our hoods to truly maximize income and revenue while establishing sustainable business models that create sustainable jobs and sustainable communities to live in. http://dreamandhustle.com/2013/05/black-enterprise-mad-because-they-cannot-break-down-hood-based-circular-economics-for-brothas-and-sistas/ stickercharger So what happens when you reach the 250th charge on that one $15 USB power bank and made the $3750 in revenue? Well what I saw them do is wrap a sticker around the USB device to cover up their logo and handed it to me. You see the picture above – this is what they gave me after wrapping it up in a sticker. Now, I did peep this – they took the one I gave them back because that was a new power bank most likely and gave me one out of another box and I bet those power banks in the other boxes already went past their prime and generated enough revenue. So they basically gave me their hand-me-down for $10 which is another profit because the $15 USB power bank depreciated to about $6 and they sold it to me for another $4 profit to get it off their hands. So as you see, thousands of people will eventually run out of juice on their mobile and even their own USB power bank taking pictures and talking on the phone and need to have some more juice to keep going. And cats cannot just sit near a plug outlet and need to move around. So this whole business model appear both very profitable and a good solution for cats to go out and have a good time taking selfies and pictures and posting up on social media. Now if you read Dream and Hustle, you should have realize by now, we already wrote enough material for cats to create this solution. The problem is you have African-Americans who want to hate on me more than they want to love doing for self. I really hope the cats who now reading this blog is more focused on doing for self and let’s talk about how to run this hustle and take it to another level to rise up an empire to do for self and the community. Because I’m also going to show you how this is an essential component to kick starting into a gear a vibrant commercial zone our communities. Setting Up the Infrastructure batterybank Let’s talk about the location – I don’t care about the battery bank charging up these USB power banks on site – get that one concept out of your head. Instead, you have a centralized location in a cheap hood location where you charge up these USB power banks and you drive a case full of fully charged USB power banks to a tent or location you offering the rental service. You can run a battery bank in a cheap loft warehouse charging up hundreds of USB power banks while the warehouse next door is slaughtering goats. No one want to steal your cheap ass $15 USB power banks so don’t trip too hard. Now for the rental service facing the customer, you set a nice 10x10 canopy or have a very small bodega style storefront and you just have a case full of new USB power banks, a container for the used up depreciated USB power banks you want to wrap up in a custom design and hand to the customer and one more container for bad USB power banks that went busted or just don’t work. You probably only need one or two people at the site and can get away with one person but I recommend two workers just in case it get busy. Now, keep in mind that you can also refurbish a food truck and use the truck to offer this rental service at a festival driving around different places and be at stuff like marathon runs, outside big events and the such. And you can do that as you grow your empire, keep that in mind because at the end of the day, this is why I told you to centralize the charging center so you can ship out crates of fully charged USB battery banks on demand anywhere in a hub-and-spoke fashion. Setting Up the Technology square For the technology, you are going to need a payment processor like Square or Stripe (https://stripe.com) which is pretty attractive offering for this business model due to customization APIs and I will discuss how to use Stripe with Bootstrap HTML5 as part of the Rise of Empires series. But I think Square will suite better because they do same day bank account sweeps and better refunding. Then for the USB power banks, you need to track each individual USB power bank with a barcode. I also have an article on how to make both barcodes and QR codes as part of the Rise of Empires series. What you want to do is create custom logo to put on your power banks and an individual barcode so you can track when the USB charger is checked out for rental, when it is checked back in so you can know how many times that individual USB charger is being used and ready to be recycled. You will need either a barcode scanner or you can get away with using a tablet that have a QR code reading app. Now, I need you to think because this is the enterprise part and you have several choices here. With a barcode scanner, you can create a simple windows forms application that put the focus on a textbox and when you scan write out a line using C# TextWriter (Java should have this also). So the line should look like: Store 1 | 12345434 | checkout | March 17 14:47 Store 1 | 34534545 | defect | March 17 15:47 Store 1 | 12345434 | checkin | March 17 18:47 This text file display the store location, barcode id, the status of checkout/checkin/defect and the time of the transaction. Now with the QR code process, you simply have QR codes on each device that point to a ASP.NET MVC URL like ninjapower.com/powerbank/12345678?store=1&status=checkout and the ASP.NET web site put the store=1 and status of checkout when the user press on the form. You can just use a mobile phone or a tablet with a QR code reader for this setup and use Square to process payments on the same mobile. The advantage of this over the text file is you get information in real-time and you can send back an ack or acknowledgement that you receieved the transaction information where the batching of files can get lost and stuck if the Internet goes down. Then what you do is you have another process that take that file and FTP using the command line to your $5/month GoDaddy server and their FTP is very solid and secure and you parse out that whole text file every hour or 30 minutes to track your sales and transactions. Notice I have store locations which could be all of your locations around an area because you was smart enough to launch in a small radius at multiple locations using area domination strategies we talked about here on Dream and Hustle. http://dreamandhustle.com/2013/01/how-hood-entrepreneurs-can-learn-from-7-eleven-area-domination-strategy-to-pursue-our-global-domination-strategy/ To process the credit card, you can start off with Square and use tablets to process the payment. I do not recommend accepting cash for this service and avoid being a cash operated business. I do not recommend any cash-based business for the hood and don’t let some cat on the internet running their mouth virtually tell you cash is king because I promise you that same person never had to sit at the end of a gun pointing at them because the robbers scoped out their business and saw they were collecting cash. Keep your hustle cashless because most cats don’t carry cash anyway nowadays. Yall better not bring some fantasy assumptive argument in my comment section that people like to use cash when you never ran a business before. Setting Up the Process Workflow swirlingsista The service should be no different than Pluggo – you charge $25 which is the $15 rental and $10 deposit. If they do not show up or return it, you keep the $25. You can scan your database with a time check to see if they do not bring it back in a certain number of hours from the checkout time entry and contact them with a reminder email as an option. Now when they come back, you can give them the option of getting a USB power bank to keep with a custom logo wrapper around it covering up your brand and barcode. Now, what you can do is something similar to scan-based trading we also talked about on Dream and Hustle and that is where you can be at your centralized location and see in real-time the inventory of USB power banks being rented out and if you see half of them rented out, you can send a truck out with a fresh new case of charged USB power banks to that sight to fulfill demand. http://dreamandhustle.com/2012/02/is-scan-based-trading-a-viable-option-for-quickly-launching-retail-entrepreneurs-in-the-hood/ So you can set this up from a refurbished food truck, a canopy or a store front and you set this up in a location that will be full of people walking around and they need juice to their mobile device. You can also rent out laptop power banks and bigger USB power banks for tablets. The goal is however, to track the unique USB power bank you renting out to make sure you making money off that individual one so you can make profit off the reuse of renting out the same power bank over and over again. Affiliate Strategy affiliate Did you realize you have several options on an affiliate level versus running storefronts like the Laundromat member service model? For example, you can just be a service provider that ship out the USB power banks to an entrepreneur in the hood to do the selling and you just run the web site for that entrepreneur to manage the rental and inventory. You just bring the charged units and return them and charge them a fee for your service. If you pursue that option, you can empower startup businesses real quick in hoods and other locations worldwide. Also, you can actually do partnership with existing business to rent out the devices like setup a booth in the Laundromat membership model where someone can keep their device charge while at the membership-only Laundromat. You can also put the rental service inside a cube shop that is on a busy corner and allow people coming to the commercial area to shop rent a USB charger and this is where I’m going to talk about the economic benefit of this model. See, renting out USB power banks allow people to shop in the hood using their mobile phones longer without worrying about their phone battery dying out. Now we have a solution where people can shop with their phones and talk with their phones and they can do more m-commerce using their NFC phones. That creates a cashless economy generation and new types of hood business models that has little cash but make enough revenue to create jobs and opportunity. This is why I wanted brothas and sistas to see the bigger picture and realize the economic opportunity of this business model being discussed. One More Thing to Consider crate This business model can be done by a brotha or sista as a supplier diversity or minority set aside at a place like a football or baseball stadium. Also, this is an exportable global solution for emerging markets worldwide like in Asia and Africa to have portable power temporary and do it in a rent-to-own fashion. Then think about cats getting off those cruise ships and you move down to the Bahamas or Cayman Islands and run this service to help people keep their mobile phone charged up to keep taking pictures. Or you can run this service on the cruise ship itself. And don’t forget, you probably can set up this service in airports when you get big time where someone can just pick up the USB charger and drop off at another airport or give it back before they fly off to their destination city and set this up worldwide, including Dubai airport. I will also mention car rental services also for vacationers too. See, the whole takeaway here is you brothas and sistas don’t need Silicon Valley and these stupid black nerds running around talking techie crap to create global empire technology solutions. Look around and look for global patterns and practices and look at how you can apply it to hood-based business models like I just did in this article. That is how you brothas and sistas are going to rise up with global empires and you need to stop looking at these fake black media that promoting drama and victimization, fake black pundits and bloggers that got nothing but an opinion and your fake family and friends who don’t want to see you do better. You need to just look around and realize it is a lot of practical and affordable business models out there for you brothas and sistas to just pursue to do for self, your people and your community.

19 thoughts on “Rise of Empires: Applying Circular Economic Modeling to Operate an USB Power Bank Rental Service

  1. Oh wow Ed this article really helped open up vision on running an nice profitable needed service in addition to my cube shop.

    I want to ask if you would consider solar powered chargers as well? I came across them a year or so ago and see that with this model it can perhaps be an addition.

    1. Solar power is not the solution here. The solution is portable juice to keep mobile device powered.

      I was considering solar power or wind power only in the context of a battery bank array at the central location to charge an array of these devices but the renewal solution was geared towards Africa as a renewable solution model to empower African entrepreneurs and increase m-commerce activity in Africa.

  2. Hello Ed,

    I just found this blog recently and I am blown away. It is so rare for someone to just give away all this knowledge for free. This is a great plan and can be scaled up quickly when necessary. I have a quick question about the the programming language you use. I am just starting out and I am stuck between .net/c# and python/django. Do you have any recommendations on which I should focus on because I see the value in learning and owning the information vs looking for a white label solution. Thanks in advance for your response. I look forward to updating you with my progress.

    1. Do not get stuck on a programming language as this is a self-imposed artificial barrier you are bring harm to yourself. If I wrote most of these solutions in c#, then the important thing is to implement the solution, not the computer language. When someone comes around and give you all this knowledge in another language beside C#, then you should consider that language but I’m giving it to you in C# and I’m real…so go with the real..

      White labels are never scalable and I recommend you read this blog more on breaking down components and build the solution. Your solution has nothing to do with programming language and more to do with workflow and processes and you can outsource some of your workflow components and automate others. Focus on the process and then see how technology or resources can take care of those processes.

      Avoid the “computer science” trap when it comes to doing for self…

  3. Ed, I appreciate your genius. Thank you for breaking this hustle all way down. First thing I thought was, this is so right on it’s crazy! My mind was clicking thinking about how i would build this out (from a solar standpoint), and now based on your comment and comments in the post, charging station it will go right next door to the slaughter house shop… with low rent (in our area) and a cheap $5.00/ month site. Wow!

    When it comes to solar for the global market specifically, Africa I’m thinking solar too. This would be great, it can help out a lot of people w/ mobile devices, and who have limited access to stable sources for their electricity.

  4. Ed,

    You have really hit something here! This is actually something I can do (you know I am still trying to understand the codes, HTML, and all-I am not a tech person-LOL)…but this actually a good idea. I am adding this to my plans as we speak. You give out some of the greatest advice and help. I don’t understand why people don’t take it and run with it-This is great for a few things we have here in town that will greatly benefit from it.
    Now with the $5 go daddy site, this is to host the database for the inventory? Is there another component that will be better for this or are you just looking at the cost effectiveness?

  5. Ed,

    Ok, I am looking into the go daddy now for the database. How did they convene the process? Was it quick? Was it lengthy? I am thinking you put everything in the rental form (maybe online) with confirmation and go from there.

    1. The process wasn’t lengthy and no rental form, probably required a credit/debit card and will put the money back on card upon return. Probably can use any rental system available on the internet for this one and use square for the credit card processing.

  6. Hey Ed…since I will be on location during the festival which would probably be out of my home state area, what could i use to charge the usb devices on site?

    1. A gas generator can run for hours but it is noisy. A battery bank or possibly solar power grid can deliver clean energy but a generator is the best option.

      1. The fair offers free electricity on site. A usb hub 24 port could work to maybe if they don’t allow for a generator

    2. How much electricity they offer is what you have to find out – likely they are running generators themselves and can only allocate to a vendor. Please look this up. But you will have to test how much voltage is used by a 24 port hub using an meter to know how much electricity you are going to consume to know how much power it will take.

  7. 1-110volt 20 amp electrical outlet is included with the vendor set up…with additional outlets at 100$…Also 220 volt 50 amp is available as well…so the usb charger is using 5v/500mAh and using a 24 port hub I would need 110v to charge up 22 usb chargers? My plan is to bring 500 usb chargers to an event like Sasquatch…I hope this is enough!

  8. I am blown away. Seriously. I have been toying around with the idea of starting my own business but with limited funds and a lack of business experience I am thrilled to have come across this site. Hopefully soon I will email you to tell you have a made a positive change in the lives of my kids bs myself. Thank you!

  9. Good Afternoon Ed,

    Awesome article!!! I have a question on the centralize charging station. Do you have ideas or anyone that builds that type of infrastructure for about 400-500 batteries packs and cost associated with it? I’m interested in building and renting out in a central location.

    1. Look up “parallel charging batteries” and you will see schemas. 400-500 is a lot don’t you think? Maybe 30-50 and they will hold a nice charge for a while.

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