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Group buy guidelines

Group Buy Guide Lines

Here at www.diyaudio.com we have a good tradition of organizing group buys. Most of them have been successful but a few have not. Below follows good experience collected by peranders.

Group buys are rather common at www.diyaudio.com and we have seen it in other forum too.

The reasons for this may be:
  • A single person wants to finance a personal project with professional made pcb's but can't afford it or wants to reduce the costs.
  • A couple or many people want to buy a cheap but good pcb of some good available design.
  • A couple or many people want to buy parts that may be hard to get in small quantities.
It could be more reasons but these are the major ones.

Important

Group buys must be carried out in the open. It's not OK to just put up an ad and pretend that it is a group buy. If there is a real list and payment in advance we can all make up our own minds if the price seems to be non or low profit.

In the past, we have also seen group buys where it was a certain kaos and we didn't know how big this kaos was. The wiki page for this project was a mess and wasn't used at all. At that time it turned out to be more than expected. In some other case the organizer got sick and in a third case the organizer ran into personal problems. If everything is in the open we all will see the size of things. Let me also say that most group buys have been carried out with excellence.

Money investment *), how much?
Make sure you don't loose money. See below also.

It's rather easy to mess things up which also has happen therefore I have written down a check list.

Group Buy Guide Lines
1.The organizer MUST submit, address and telephone number. It's not necessary to do it in public but at least one of the customers must have it, preferable more than one. Why? The organizer can be ill or unreachable in some other way. This is only a safety measure for the customers.
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2.Gather all wishes and then design the pcb. *) One man is in charge, YOU or someone is in charge of the business and one another is in charge of the design. Make it clear from the beginning who runs the show and the responsibilities of each person.
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3.Build one or more prototypes. Bug hunt, add features maybe. It's very important to have a ready and functional product to offer. DON'T OFFER NON-EXISTENT PRODUCTS. Even if you are a pro and are really skilled things can turn up and make the design not so good. Prototype first! Seeing is believing in this case.
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4.Start a wiki page and write down your offer which of course must be attractive. Be clear with what you really are offering.
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5.Make people to sign up but at this point not binding. State a last date when 90-95% should have announced their interest.
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6.Get an offer from a pcb manufacturer or supplier if it's about other parts. If you should ask for more or less boards than the interest, that's up to you to decide. My experience has been less interest when it comes to put up money but I'll guess this is very dependent of the type of project.
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7.Create a Paypal account so the money collecting will go easier.
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8.Collect the money in advance, my recommendation. Don't risk anything if it is a low profit deal. Note low profit, not non-profit. It's OK to get a small reward for your efforts. State a last date for the payment. When 90-95% have paid it may be time for ordering.
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9.Order the pcb's, parts etc.
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10.State the expected delivery time.
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11.Deliver all by yourself or with help from a couple of people.
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12.Make a clear table (like I did) over payments, dates, amounts, delivery times and maybe also acknowledgments from the "customers". We have seen here that status of payment and delivery is very important. It may also be good if the "customers" also acknowledge the received goods.
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13.Start a homepage. Gather all info in one place. Make sure this homepage is updated as fast as possible.
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14.Create your own support forum like I have done (costs nothing!) or start a thread at this forum. You may also use my(peranders) forum for a closed group so the beta builders can exchange info in peace and quiet. It can be more peaceful if the development is a bit protected.
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List of possible costs
1.The product itself including shipping, tax, customs etc.
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2.The first prototype run including shipping, tax, customs etc.
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3.Parts for the first prototype run including shipping, tax, customs etc.
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4.Rewards to those who build prototypes.
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5.Envelopes and/or boxes, packing material, EDS plastic bags.
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6.Address labels.
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7.Tape.
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8.Paypal fees, bank transfer fees etc.
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9.Transportation if the post office isn't nearby.
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Money investment and building prototypes

* ) If you aren't sure if you dare to risk a prototype series, collect a gang of beta builders like I did. 3-10 persons is enough. Ask them to put up some money and return some or all of it AFTER completed task. If you know the builders, trust them and know their building speed it's not necessary with this deposition of money but if you don't know them too well I'll recommend this type of "blackmail" (money talks!).

My experience has been that some are really fast and very dedicated and deliver but unfortunately the rest has been 0% delivering. So in my case it would have been a pure waste of money but also in results. Many people say yes without really thinking, do I really have time for this? Can I deliver in time?

If you plan to use my idea here about beta builders, make sure you calculate a reward also in your pcb price so you won't loose anything.

Regards
Per-Anders Sjöström

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