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post #1 of 31 Old 02-07-2012, 10:14 AM - Thread Starter
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I just wanted to start this off by saying that I'm a huge pc geek. Over the last 15 years ive built for myself countless pc's and recently pc's for family and friends. my question is do you think starting a custom Htpc business is realistic. I know assassin has his and by no means am I trying to move in on his territory. I just have a deep passion to build htpc's and feel if the demand is strong enough its something I would love to try. so if you would just let me know some of the things that would get you to purchase a htpc from a seller. thanks for your input in advance.
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post #2 of 31 Old 02-07-2012, 10:27 AM
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You have to provide the user with post purchase support. That will make or break your business. If you don't provide the support you'll lose business. If you do provide support you'll spend most of your time supporting and not building.

Good luck.

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post #3 of 31 Old 02-07-2012, 10:41 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by bryansj View Post

You have to provide the user with post purchase support. That will make or break your business. If you don't provide the support you'll lose business. If you do provide support you'll spend most of your time supporting and not building.

Good luck.

I have a second person who can help with support problems as well as myself, but you have gave me something more to think about.
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post #4 of 31 Old 02-07-2012, 11:06 AM
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Originally Posted by bryansj View Post

You have to provide the user with post purchase support. That will make or break your business. If you don't provide the support you'll lose business. If you do provide support you'll spend most of your time supporting and not building.

Good luck.

+1

Not to mention the countless hours spent answering and exchanging emails often without a sale at the end.

Best of luck to you.
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post #5 of 31 Old 02-07-2012, 12:21 PM
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Don't do it .

You would be better of opening up a broader high end computer store/supplier not just HTPC , gaming rigs, graphics workstations , render farms , fast raids, 2k playback systems , stereo playback systems.

To be honest though some of this might be beyond a PC tinkerer. No offence.

And you have massive competition with very deep pockets.

Seriously...don't do it. You may as well tray to go into the automobile industry , beyond tinkerer level you will get crushed.

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post #6 of 31 Old 02-07-2012, 02:13 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Mr.D View Post

Don't do it .

You would be better of opening up a broader high end computer store/supplier not just HTPC , gaming rigs, graphics workstations , render farms , fast raids, 2k playback systems , stereo playback systems.

To be honest though some of this might be beyond a PC tinkerer. No offence.

And you have massive competition with very deep pockets.

Seriously...don't do it. You may as well tray to go into the automobile industry , beyond tinkerer level you will get crushed.


I was just going to start off making htpc's out of my house. So far I've made 2 with a $100 profit for each htpc. Im not going in thinking of riches, but just wanted to gauge the market.
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post #7 of 31 Old 02-07-2012, 02:16 PM
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Personally, I would never discourage a fellow dreamer from ... well , dreaming .

I would start out small . VERY small . Do some free labor builds for friends and family where they pay for parts and you do all the labor for free and in return they spread the "good word". Honestly , if your fair and go beyond the call as assassin has done and continues to do , you should expect big things in small returns at first and above all ... don't get discouraged . Stay small and lean and don't expect much if any returns for quite a while .

I do agree that staying with just htpc may limit your exposer at first . Do some custom kick *ss gaming rigs along with some other trendy builds and then slowly narrow down where you want to be .

Who knows where this may lead to

Nothing wrong with trying . "He who hugs the trunk of the tree goes no where "

GO LUCK and luk how it goes
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post #8 of 31 Old 02-07-2012, 02:41 PM
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I look at it this way. If the HTPC business was even remotely profitable, even on a medium scale, you'd have HP, Dell, IBM etc scrambling to be there. They are not.

Then we have niche players like Velocity Micro, S1 Digital, Inteset (now defunct), and other custom MC builders, that are just surviving.

A new player in this market can survive on a very small scale, but beyond that, there's very little money in it. No one wants to pay for support costs (which are MORE than the cost of the hardware).

If you really want to get into the business of "HTPCs", think software. Something that everyone wants and doesn't exist.
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post #9 of 31 Old 02-07-2012, 02:52 PM - Thread Starter
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Maybe I should clarify myself, i'm not really looking to break here. I'll be happy selling 5-10 htpc's a month with a $100 profit. For me it's more of a side business that cn help channell my passion for building, and configuring htpc's. I've pretty much got my setup down to a "T". As idiot proof as possible. Just wanted to know if it would be possible to sell them online, granted there bing a market for it.
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post #10 of 31 Old 02-07-2012, 02:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by musicguy980 View Post

Maybe I should clarify myself, i'm not really looking to break here. I'll be happy selling 5-10 htpc's a month with a $100 profit. For me it's more of a side business that cn help channell my passion for building, and configuring htpc's. I've pretty much got my setup down to a "T". As idiot proof as possible. Just wanted to know if it would be possible to sell them online, granted there bing a market for it.

Try this. Try selling a few of your HTPCs for what you want to sell them for, on eBay. Put a "best offer" option on the listings. See what kind of interest you get.

That's an easy, cheap, market research tool.
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post #11 of 31 Old 02-07-2012, 03:36 PM
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I have a friend who did something similar to what you are talking about. He started out doing free labor for some friends and family which eventually led to them passing the word on to others. One of the things that I have noticed when it comes to working on peoples computers is that he is far busier fixing computers then he is building them. I don't know the exact amount he makes but I know he has had several months where he makes 1000 dollars of more. Most of that money is from computer repair type of stuff. He has been doing this for around a year or so and has only built 5 or so computers. One thing that i was a little confused about was if you are planning on trying to do your business exclusively online or if you were going to work on local peoples computers? One of the things that should be said is that the vast majority of people won't need a new computer but instead will need repairs, and the people who know what a HTPC is will be more likely to know how to build it themselves.

I hope this information is a little help and I wish you luck!
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post #12 of 31 Old 02-07-2012, 04:00 PM
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By $100 profit, do you mean cost of hardware/software + $100? So that $100 includes your time working with the potential customer until they place an order, ordering the parts, tracking the shipping, assembling/testing/configuring, packing it up, and shipping/tracking it to the customer? And what if they decide to return it, or if they have warranty issues?

I have quite a passion for being a PC/HTPC junkie, but that is a lot of work for full custom builds. Sure, some extra money would be nice, but things get complicated with a side business. And then comes the tax man.

Bazinga!

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post #13 of 31 Old 02-07-2012, 04:09 PM
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Also be prepared financially if you have 2-3 returns in the same week and have to swallow that cost.

Not fun.

And people can try to screw you on paypal, credit cards, etc after they have received their product just because they are jerks. This can and does happen.

Just be careful.

There is a reason why I don't like Dell, HP, Gateway, etc personally. I just know the kind of parts that they have to choose to make it profitable for them. And that's even with the ridiculous mass discount I am sure they get from Microsoft (which you will not get, btw).

And then as stated there is the customer service and technical support aspect. And this is made even worse because this is a HTpc and not just a PC.

Not for the faint of heart.
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post #14 of 31 Old 02-07-2012, 05:52 PM
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Here's the thing - there is zero money in selling systems unless you have something really unique to bring to the table. Support is where the money resides, and that is something that a lot of people aren't willing to pay for (then get upset when their bare-bones support contract sucks, but that's another topic). The trouble with selling HTPCs and support is that the majority of people who would want an HTPC are already going to have the technical knowledge to handle it themselves (or can find the answers). Those who don't have that knowledge are by and large going to stick with a simpler STB or something like the Ceton Echo/Q, where the complexity is minimized to where things can't go wrong. Those few who don't have the knowledge to fix it/build it themselves but still would prefer an HTPC to an STB are a very niche market (within what is already a niche market). More power to you if you can make money in that arena, but I'm skeptical that it would be enough to justify the time investment.
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post #15 of 31 Old 02-07-2012, 07:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcturkey View Post

Here's the thing - there is zero money in selling systems unless you have something really unique to bring to the table. Support is where the money resides, and that is something that a lot of people aren't willing to pay for (then get upset when their bare-bones support contract sucks, but that's another topic). The trouble with selling HTPCs and support is that the majority of people who would want an HTPC are already going to have the technical knowledge to handle it themselves (or can find the answers). Those who don't have that knowledge are by and large going to stick with a simpler STB or something like the Ceton Echo/Q, where the complexity is minimized to where things can't go wrong. Those few who don't have the knowledge to fix it/build it themselves but still would prefer an HTPC to an STB are a very niche market (within what is already a niche market). More power to you if you can make money in that arena, but I'm skeptical that it would be enough to justify the time investment.

My niche is going to be fully configured play&play systems. Granted I know something is always going to go wrong, but judging by the systems I've built for family and friends. I think I've got a setup that's almost idiot proof, unless someone jus wants to keep tinkering with and already setup system.
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post #16 of 31 Old 02-07-2012, 10:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by musicguy980 View Post

I think I've got a setup that's almost idiot proof, unless someone jus wants to keep tinkering with and already setup system.

"no plan survives contact with the enemy"

Basicly there is nothing idiot proof in HTPC world. You need a good profit margin to handle the support.

I think you better of installing mediaplayers connected to a NAS. Less software = less problem.

Good movies are as rare as an on topic discussion.
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post #17 of 31 Old 02-08-2012, 09:51 AM
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I have been building "cable boxes" and "DVRs" for a while now. If you tell people it is a PC, they don't seem to be interested.

I started out by making these "DVRs" that you don't have to pay monthly fees for friends and family at my cost (plus, I kept the rebate money $50-$100).

The word got around, friends of friends would ask what is that they have... and so on. But, I kept it strictly local. I don't want to pay for shipping and insurance, nor do I want to deal with remote support.

I mistakenly accepted an order from someone who is not in my driveable range. It is a pain to walk someone through the set up, and programming.

With local sales, I make people give me a 25% deposit to start the work, and then remainder is due at delivery. I tell them in advance to schedule their cable company to come the same day as delivery. Recently, people have been able to pick up CableCards them selves.

So, at delivery, I set everything up with ther Cable providers, and give them a tutorial, and leave them with printed instructions that I made.

Most of the installs from paying customers have been in "rich people's homes. People who have a home theater, and have multiple TV units with existing wired network.

There is an occasional "ghetto" cusotmer who wants everyting, but haggles about the price.

All of the units I install are locked in WMC, so that end user does not use it as PC. I had one customer ask me to unlock it, but I had him sign the warranty waver, since I did not want him to mess somehting up, and then ask me to come over and fix it. He did mess it up, but he had to pay me to come out and fix it.

I offer 1 year warranty, which people seem to be OK with.

I buy the same parts for every build, and just use an image from a known build to install everthing. It literally takes me about an hour to put one together and have it working. This way I can do it in the evenings, after work.

There is not enough income to quit my day job, but it is enough to support my hobbies. If I were making 5 of these per day, I could potentially quit my job.

By the way, Assasin, Dell pays $10 per Windows copy

6 TV's in the house on FiOS and we only pay $4.99/month to connect them all!!! Power to the CableCard and WMC7!!!
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post #18 of 31 Old 02-08-2012, 10:29 AM
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Don't do it. Your enthusiasm is commendable, but your customers will be calling you when every little thing does not work as expected.

HTPC Enthusiast
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post #19 of 31 Old 02-08-2012, 11:09 AM
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And what about the legal aspects of operating a business in your city/county/state, and reporting all your finances/income properly? Would your endeavors be happening "under the radar", so to speak? Another aspect of the discussion to consider...

I too wish you luck

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post #20 of 31 Old 02-08-2012, 12:36 PM
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Yeah, don't do it. Unlike you, I am NOT in the HTPC business, although I do own one that I put together myself.

I test software for a living, which apparently translates to PC helpdesk technician in my personal life.

Picture your least technical customer, the friend of yours who is artsy fartsy and would lose his head if it wasnt attached to him, now picture that guy being every single customer.

Is that the life you want to live, popping prozac's just to bear building another HTPC I commend you.
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post #21 of 31 Old 02-08-2012, 03:26 PM
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I love building but I hate support, and you cannot be picky and answer "good questions" only so u spend your time thinking, does he even bother see if there is power light before ringing me up at midnight?

Build smartphone apps instead. People won't expect personal support for a $5 app and u make like $50 cents ea. but when that million copy goes out... negligible startup cost.

Solution: FREE. Explanation: I will have to charge$ you.

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post #22 of 31 Old 02-08-2012, 07:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by musicguy980 View Post

...I think I've got a setup that's almost idiot proof, unless someone jus wants to keep tinkering with and already setup system.

Make an idiot-proof product, and somebody will make a better idiot.

Bazinga!

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post #23 of 31 Old 02-08-2012, 08:48 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blueiedgod View Post

I have been building "cable boxes" and "DVRs" for a while now. If you tell people it is a PC, they don't seem to be interested.

I started out by making these "DVRs" that you don't have to pay monthly fees for friends and family at my cost (plus, I kept the rebate money $50-$100).

The word got around, friends of friends would ask what is that they have... and so on. But, I kept it strictly local. I don't want to pay for shipping and insurance, nor do I want to deal with remote support.

I mistakenly accepted an order from someone who is not in my driveable range. It is a pain to walk someone through the set up, and programming.

With local sales, I make people give me a 25% deposit to start the work, and then remainder is due at delivery. I tell them in advance to schedule their cable company to come the same day as delivery. Recently, people have been able to pick up CableCards them selves.

So, at delivery, I set everything up with ther Cable providers, and give them a tutorial, and leave them with printed instructions that I made.

Most of the installs from paying customers have been in "rich people's homes. People who have a home theater, and have multiple TV units with existing wired network.

There is an occasional "ghetto" cusotmer who wants everyting, but haggles about the price.

All of the units I install are locked in WMC, so that end user does not use it as PC. I had one customer ask me to unlock it, but I had him sign the warranty waver, since I did not want him to mess somehting up, and then ask me to come over and fix it. He did mess it up, but he had to pay me to come out and fix it.

I offer 1 year warranty, which people seem to be OK with.

I buy the same parts for every build, and just use an image from a known build to install everthing. It literally takes me about an hour to put one together and have it working. This way I can do it in the evenings, after work.

There is not enough income to quit my day job, but it is enough to support my hobbies. If I were making 5 of these per day, I could potentially quit my job.

By the way, Assasin, Dell pays $10 per Windows copy

exactly the setup I have in mine. thank you, you have been very informative.
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post #24 of 31 Old 02-08-2012, 11:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blueiedgod View Post

All of the units I install are locked in WMC, so that end user does not use it as PC. I had one customer ask me to unlock it, but I had him sign the warranty waver, since I did not want him to mess somehting up, and then ask me to come over and fix it. He did mess it up, but he had to pay me to come out and fix it.

Would you mind letting me know how you lock it in WMC?
I built an htpc for my brother who has kids that I'm sure will love to mess around with various settings, which will then cause my brother to ask me to come over and fix it.
I know of the "keep in media mode" setting but I've found that it does not always stay that way when the computer is restarted.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

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post #25 of 31 Old 02-09-2012, 09:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by khalid7412002 View Post

Would you mind letting me know how you lock it in WMC?
I built an htpc for my brother who has kids that I'm sure will love to mess around with various settings, which will then cause my brother to ask me to come over and fix it.
I know of the "keep in media mode" setting but I've found that it does not always stay that way when the computer is restarted.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

Sorry, Media mode only is what I use.

6 TV's in the house on FiOS and we only pay $4.99/month to connect them all!!! Power to the CableCard and WMC7!!!
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post #26 of 31 Old 02-09-2012, 11:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrBobb View Post

I love building but I hate support, and you cannot be picky and answer "good questions" only so u spend your time thinking, does he even bother see if there is power light before ringing me up at midnight?

For friends and families I've built PCs , installed home cinemas , stuck bigger hard drives in their laptops , found them mint condition used TVs etc.

I don't do it any more because they always seem to think along with the favour they got lifetime support contracts.

Its so not worth the hassle.

digital film janitor
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post #27 of 31 Old 02-09-2012, 12:07 PM
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Totally agree - folks don't realize a) how much time it takes and b) how much your time is really worth. Folks who have "normal" jobs get paid the same no matter how much they (don't) work. They get paid to gab on the phone and check emails and don't understand that you don't. (Yes, I'm both generalizing and bitter )
Watch this video and see if you agree...
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post #28 of 31 Old 02-09-2012, 01:01 PM
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You'd be better suited to get into the CI field. Find a local CI that wants to delve into the HTPC market and "team-up" with them.

Also, K.I.S.S. If you do plan on building HTPC's for people, keep it as simple as possible to reduce future service issues that will crop up.
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post #29 of 31 Old 02-09-2012, 01:43 PM
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How about reading this thread about this very same topic?

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1329504

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post #30 of 31 Old 02-09-2012, 01:53 PM
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A few things I've learned:

- You better be an effing wiz at TurboTax Home & Business.

- The money isn't in the hardware, it's in the service. That rich dentist next door doesn't want to spend all day Saturday installing a wireless router and wireless printer when they can pay you to come over and set it up in an hour. You can make more money in that one hour than building hardware.

- Depending on where you live, there might be a big underserved market for a "tech handyman" -- you'll make more money doing that than selling PCs alone.

Bottomline: don't cheap out and try to compete with Dell. Sell a service, not just a PC.

 

 

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