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  1. #1
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    Starting A Computer Business

    I am really interested in starting a computer business (maybe it will become big) and I just need some help getting strated. I need to make a website that I can have prebuilt systems and then the users can customize them to their preferences (like www.alienware.com). I dont know where to start with this, I know pretty much about making sites, but I never made one like this. I would also like to know the best companies that make custom boxes to ship your pc's in, make custom 1x1 stickers to put on the cases and the best company to handle credit cards. If you know anyother things that should be of concern to me before i get started, please let me know

  2. #2
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    As far as credit card processing goes, I recommend charge.com. They provide inexpensive merchant accounts and real time credit card processing via an authorize.net terminal. I use them for my company, and I set up a system that will instantly charge the buyers credit card. There fees are reasonable and work good for me.
    I bought the Authorize.net terminal and am in the process of getting a SSL cert. from VeriSign.
    With the labels, try someplace like Office Max or Kinkos (they make copies and stuff like that). It should not be to hard to find. Boxes, I am not sure about...try a search on Yahoo or Google.
    I hope I helped and good luck with your business!
    Joel Croft
    Everyone's Hosting
    Domain hosting and registration

  3. #3
    SitePoint Member danielisa's Avatar
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    There is a large box manufacturer in my hometown--Wichita, KS-- called Love Box company that might be able to help you.

    dan

  4. #4
    Xbox why have you forsaken me? moospot's Avatar
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    Best of luck to you on your new business. Your site definitely needs to be database driven and dynamic. Have you looked in to your development platform yet. Will you be using ASP, PHP, JSP? What database will you be using? Have your own server or are you going to have it hosted? Operating system?

    If you are making computers like Alien then I would be glad to take one off of your hands!

  5. #5
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    MOOSPOT:

    I will probably use PHP or maybe some .NET language(dont know anything about that yet). I currently have a php/unix host, but may need a different one if i choose to go with a micrsoft language. The computers will be similar to alienware except I will be offering different cases (all painted) than just that huge full tower. The things i cant offer yet are custom software to get a little extra performance out of the machine and 24/7 tech support. I am going to make sure though that i meat or beat their benchmarks and I will have 24/7 email support with possible phone support if perscried by me. Ill let you know when i get the site up and maybe you would like to pick one up. Oh, and I will be about $200 cheaper than alienware. I currently have one employee, plus me. He will be in charge of the painting. We will paint cases, drive fronts and bay covers (alienware doesnt do this), mice, and keyboards.

  6. #6
    Xbox why have you forsaken me? moospot's Avatar
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    AMD, Intel, both? Sounds cool.

    Anyway..you need to match up your hosting with your development platform. If you are going with a PHP/Unix host, then you should probably stick with PHP and MySQL as your backend. (PHP guys, correct me if I am wrong).

    I work with ASP and SQL server personally and don't go too deep into Penguin territory. I hear PHP is a great (and very powerful) language, though.

    As for the web site, you will need a great design (of course), a lot of scripting (for interaction with your database and doing price calculations) and a stable host that can handle all of your transactions.

    You should probably hang out in the PHP forum and ask for help. I am sure that you will find plenty of willing people to help you on your task.

  7. #7
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy Jeremy W.'s Avatar
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    dbeau, I sent you a private message about a week ago concerning this topic. Have you not received it?
    SVP Marketing, SoCast SRM
    Personal blog: Strategerize
    Twitter: @jeremywright

  8. #8
    SitePoint Zealot
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    Please do email me (joel@everyoneshosting.com) when you finish the site. It sounds like a great idea and I would like to see how it goes.
    Joel Croft
    Everyone's Hosting
    Domain hosting and registration

  9. #9
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    Other things I'd be conserned with are:

    ~business plan
    ~marketing plan (on and off line)
    ~who is your ideal client
    ~what licences will you need
    ~have you attended an IRS and local tax class for business owners?
    ~do you have a business checking account.
    ~taxes in states or areas you're looking to sell in
    ~shipping companies you might want to use
    ~how much inventory will you keep or will you purchase inventory as you need it

  10. #10
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy
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    Just a little advice from someone who tried that business model and saw firsthand...

    The markup on custom built computers is only about %10-%20. That's not much when you consider the cost. And if you warranty them you will be forced to fix them if anything goes wrong.

    However, if you DON'T warranty them and use cheap parts you'll be labeled a ripoff and no one will buy from you. It's like a catch 22.

    These big manufacturers can do it because they really only pay $10 for Windows or $5 for a 512 RAM stick... because they purchase in such quantity.

    Best of luck and I really hope you make a LOT of money, just wanted to make you aware of what I found when we tried it... we quickly switched to a Service oriented business model instead of retail sales.

  11. #11
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy TheOriginalH's Avatar
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    Like mariasplave said - licensing will be a huge issue. What OS/s do you intend to preinstall? (if any). Do you intend to go with other software? (office suites/music players/graphics tools?).

    I would suggest writing a list of all possible software elements, and then researching what sort of oem deals the producers have (obviously MS is the biggy, their stuff can be found here ).

    I'd consider doing a Linux/Staroffice and Win/Office solutions. Some of the bigger companies are starting to follow that trend - why let 'em beat ya?

    H
    ~The Artist Latterly Known as Crazy Hamster~
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  12. #12
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    I researched this for awhile not long ago.

    One thing you can do is ship the systems in the white box that the cases come in. Have some large custom stickers to put on the side. Later, when you actually have things more figured out, you can put out the money for custom boxes.

    I can get you a good price on the 1x1 labels if you are still interested. Drop me an email and I'll send it over to you.

    Agreat shopping cart for this type of thing is www.cartit.com - the suppoert is great and you can have a custom solution built around it that will make it fully automated later on if you want.

  13. #13
    grasshoppa Snowbird122's Avatar
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    I did this sort of thing for a while. It doens't scale very well. You have to coordinate a lot of shipping and receiving. You have to build the machines, install the software, and troubleshoot problems (and there will be problems). I don't know how fast you can build (and paint) a machine, but lets say you can spend only 8 hours per machine on ordering the stuff, opening the boxes and trashing the packing stuff, putting the hardware together, installing the OS, installing games or other software, updating the OS (windows update), and packing it all back up.

    Because markup is very small, lets say you earn $200 profit on each machine. You have just earned $25 per hour. Now you have to support this machine you just built for 2 years (for free). It is a lot of work to do this kind of thing. You have to do it on a very large scale to make it worth your while.
    http://www.echo-consulting.net - Sound Solutions for Online Inspriations.

  14. #14
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    The thing about what I am doing is that i dont NEED large profits. Im sill in High School and Have very few bills to pay. I have fun building Computers and I have somebody else covering the paint jobs. Plus, with the MS System builder program, thye have unattended setup. And, the "big" companies offer 1 year support and then the customer pays for extra support.

  15. #15
    Xbox why have you forsaken me? moospot's Avatar
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    Do you sell systems now? I'm in the market and may be willing to give you a shot.

  16. #16
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    thanks for the support, but i just want to get everything ready and planned out so that i can be sure i wont lose any money. I plan to start early 2002. If you are still interested then, let me know.

    I need some help from you guys. My partner and I are having troubles thinking of names. He came up with two: Atomic PC and Aquatic PC. I told him that aquatic was cooler cause we could "play" off of it better. Can any of you think of names. If you think of a good one and I use it, I will give you one of our computers at cost once we start up. It needs to be a name that we can play off (i.e. Auatic PC could have coral names as the colors and aquatic animals as the different PCs). Thannks

  17. #17
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    What are some other good shopping carts for this purpose besides cartit. Im looking for one that would be ideal for ordering custom computers. I want to enter all of the parts and the prices and then it will say how much it would cost to goto another part. Would it be best just to write my own. if so, how would i go about doing this so that i can have a catalog that is easily updated and I can have the links point to specific product(s) by adding "?itm=1002,1003,1004" at the end of the url. Thanks for all the help

  18. #18
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    See if www.cartville.com has what you're looking for.

    I became an affiliate for them a few weeks ago. Thought they had a good deal.

    Maria Marsala

  19. #19
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    I cant find exactly what i am looking for, so I am going to try and make my own cart system. Are there any tutorials that you know of that could help get me started? I know php, i just dont know where to begin with this project.

    THanks

  20. #20
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy TheOriginalH's Avatar
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    Hmmmmm - there was a tut on that very issue @ sitepoint, but I can't find it at present. You could always try Kevin's new book
    ~The Artist Latterly Known as Crazy Hamster~
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