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Shoestring budget+Down Economy=Best Seafood Supply

Shoestring budget+Down Economy=Best Seafood SupplyBy: Alexis Campestre

At the beginning of the month of December 2010, I read the book, 4-Hour Work Week, by Timothy Ferris. The book injected in me a surge of ambitious desire and energy to develop a business that would allow me to work at my own pace, on my schedule, at my whim. This led to the creation of Best Seafood Supply (www.bestseafoodsupply.com) by December 30, 2010, a business that is harnessing the creative and innovative capabilities of two Internet savvy entrepreneurs, Alexis Campestre and Brett Weller. Best Seafood Supply delivers premium quality, sustainably sourced, Alaskan seafood, to the end-user and restaurants alike.

Good friends since kindergarten, Brett and I graduated in May 2010 from Texas Tech University. From there, our paths took us two very different directions. Brett headed to the concrete jungle, of Houston, TX, to wade his way through the mindless and the perfunctory. I thirsted for an adventure, and struck off for Seward, AK in a 1992 Ford F-150 with another friend of mine, Chad Knowles, to work at a seafood processor.

In Alaska, I lived in a tent in the Chugach Wilderness for two-thirds of the total time I was there, showered at $1.50 for seven minutes of hot water at the Harbor Master’s Office, and worked 80+ hours per week. This experience was the definition of hard work and low pay. By the end of the summer I knew that work as a seafood processor, was not the life for me.

On the other side of the universe, in Houston, TX, Brett earned a modest income from his work in customs brokerage. Each day of the week he fought Houston traffic, spent eight hours in an office getting fat, shuffled paperwork, and then fought traffic again back to his apartment, with just enough energy to browse Reddit and finally fall asleep for work the next day. In April 2011, after eight months of this fluffy and cute manifestation of slavery, he was laid-off. Taking the opportunity, and an unemployment check, he joined me up in Colorado to work on Best Seafood Supply, our 4-Hour Work Week to-be.

As I write this article, I am working with a contractor in Florida via eLance, to create a professional brochure that I can use to show potential customers: chefs, parents, seafood lovers, or employers seeking to demonstrate their client/associate appreciation in a unique way. The mock-ups look amazing, and for only $100 (+printing costs), we will be able to proudly display our seafood choices in a hard-copy format as well as on our website.

The first website for Best Seafood Supply was made by me in early January 2011, using the free website builder offered by www.Weebly.com. The site was very amateur in design but a great chance to get my feet Wet. In addition, the Weebly site was integral to the successful communication of our website design desires, as we were able to offer an example of what we would like to see. Using eLance, we contracted a freelancer from Pakistan, in February 2011. For many reasons, this first experience with elance was not a great one. The primary reason being that I failed to clearly establish my goals to the freelancer. Secondly, I didn’t have a solid enough foundation of the fundamentals of web design to know exactly what I was even looking for in the site. I just knew I wanted to sell some seafood. Nevertheless, the project only cost $400 and again, it was a major learning experience.

Not satisfied with the $400 design, I contracted a different elance.com freelancer, Hemant Bhargava, co-founder of Sharp Web Studio, based in India. For just over $1000, I received a complete redesign of my website on the WordPress platform, integration of PayPal payment processing, as well as three months of search engine optimization. Currently, Hemant is reworking the home page of Best Seafood Supply for an additional $350, in the hopes that we increase our conversion rate of site hits to seafood purchases.

Funding for this upstart came from two sources: Savings from my work in Alaska and Brett’s unemployment checks. To date, we have invested just over $2,500 and are on the brink of beginning a full on advertising campaign, which is expected to be the majority of our costs. Fortunately, there are many methods that we are exploring that will help keep costs down. For example: The opportunity to be featured on ShoestringVenture.com was brought about by becoming involved in the site, www.haro.com. HARO, Help A Reporter Out, is a site that helps reporters meet their deadlines, and helps people like me with a FREE opportunity to be sited and published. Being published is a credibility marker that cannot be beat in the Information Age and so my team writes many hours each day with the hope of such opportunities.

Shoestring budget+Down Economy=Best Seafood SupplyLucky enough to have a friend as a graphics designer, not to mention a good one, I asked Emily Dickenson, if she would create the logo for Best Seafood Supply. In her last semester of undergraduate study she agreed, and designed an incredibly unique logo that we are very proud of, and she did it for only an implied, “I’ll pay you for your work as soon as we begin to generate revenue.” Best Seafood Supply highly recommends a graphics designer for a friend.

Last week I purchased three additional domains for a total of $33.48: www.nativealaskanscholarship.com, www.anyfresherandyoudbetwet.com, and www.wetfishy.com. Each domain has a distinct and separate function but a common purpose, that is, to ramp up traffic to the main site. “Anyfresher…” is aimed at enticing people in search of premium quality seafood for unique recipes to choose Best Seafood Supply. The Native Alaskan Scholarship website focuses on detailing information on our social commitment to donating 20% of after-tax profits, which go to a scholarship fund for the aspiring youths of the Native Tribes of Alaska. The Wet Fishy site, on the other hand, is a completely off-the-wall, unprecedented marketing tactic, that birthed in the midst of a firestorm on the video game, “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.” Why not create a user handle for the game that will also market for Best Seafood Supply? Thus, the handle www.wetfishy.com was created, a quirky name that just may attract the curiously minded. Also, the site gives a brief overview of our sustainability efforts.

In addition, we have come to an agreement with friend and fellow entrepreneur, Tony Paradis, the owner and founder of Food and Fitness Online; to create links to his site from ours, in exchange for an endorsement of our seafood. Tony, a dietician and fitness expert, as well as an excellent speaker, has agreed to create professional videos of himself cooking healthy seafood dishes, to be posted to his website, www.foodandfitnessonline.com. The ingredients of the recipes will be posted beside the video, and all relevant ingredients (e.g., salmon, halibut, king crab) will link back to www.bestseafoodsupply.com for quick and easy purchase. Google AdWords is another advertising technique we are certain will be very cost-effective in directing traffic to BSS.

Our first official sale was June 28, 2011. The purchase order came as quite a surprise to us, as we had not yet commenced any form of advertisement, aside from search engine optimization. In fact, we had not even successfully contracted a supplier at this point, something we had ardently been working to acquire. This purchase order jolted my reality, as it made me realize, nothing greases negotiations with a supplier, like a purchase order. When BSS slips over into the black from the red, we plan to thank our first customer with a selection from our gift baskets.

After seven months of hard work, Best Seafood Supply is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Today we are proud to offer free, overnight FedEx delivery of the best seafood the world has to offer; Alaskan salmon in particular, is lauded for its relatively low levels of mercury and high levels Omega-3’s and Vitamin-D. Our selection includes the top-tier filets of King (Chinook), Silver (Coho), Red (Sockeye) Salmon, as well as prime Colossal King Crab, Dungeness Crab, Giant Prawns, and Jumbo Scallops.

 

 

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2 Responses to “Shoestring budget+Down Economy=Best Seafood Supply”

  1. Etienne says:

    Congrats on following your dream Alexis. This is something that I too would like to do (i.e. what makes me happy, and not work for the man, but myself). Thanks for inspiring me to follow my heart, but most of all knowing that I should be happy with MY life, because that’s what it is, mine.

    Take care and I know you will grow leaps and bounds from this experience, it will only serve to make you a better person, and a better business man.

  2. Thanks Etienne. I appreciate the recognition. Everyday is day full of awesome challenges. I thoroughly enjoy meeting them head on.

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