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Digitize old school trade shows, riches in (trade show) niches, and how fans can make creators rich without giving a penny💰

This week's recap of the startup ideas from My First Million episode 121 along with some ideas of my own...


Wes Kimbell

Oct 22 2020

6 mins read


Hey guys, welcome to another edition of Everyday Startup. A newsletter all about startups ideas aimed at solopreneuers and internet based businesses. We bring together ideas and strategies from all over the internet including My First Million podcast. 

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On episode 121 of My First Million, Shaan and Sam talked trade shows. Trade shows are unique from the typical conference because at trade shows people go to transact and spend money. People pay for airfare to get to the trade show, pay for the hotel for multiple nights, even pay an entry fee to get into these trade show and then spend money at the show.

Trade shows are great places to pick up products to dropship instead of having to use Alibaba or travel to China. There are many specialized trade shows like one for crystals (spiritual stuff), instrumentation, specialty food products, wellness products, quilting, oil & gas, self-help, essential oils, tech, and pretty much anything you can think of.

The problem we have today, of course, is not many people are traveling due to the “cerveza sickness”. So how can you create an online experience that is just as good as being at a trade show in real life?

Hopin for trade shows…

According to their website, Hopin is an online events platform where you can create engaging virtual events that connect people around the globe.

How could you use the Hopin or similar video platforms to digitize real-life trade shows?

Alibaba recently introduced a digital version of the Canton Fair. The Canton Fair draws millions of people in real-life each year in China where there are hundreds and hundreds of booths selling products.

This year Canton Fair digitized the experience by having vendors come (real life people) and use Tik Tok to show their wares live to visitors anywhere in the world. You can actually talk back and forth. You also have digital access to their catalog and can negotiate with the vendor and get their digital business card. The only thing the attendees need is a smart phone / computer.

Create a platform similar to Hopin but targeting trade shows…

Sam and Shaan discussed the idea of creating a platform like Hopin but geared to trade shows and brining them online. It’s likely Hopin may be a direct competitor but by focusing on certain niche trade shows early on could give you the initial foundation needed to see growth later as you expand into other sectors.

Speaking of trade shows…

If you can successfully build a trade show (as opposed to building a platform to digitize them), it’s possible to sell it for a nice return after a relatively short period of time.

A great example is a trade show called Money 20/20. It’s for people and companies in the finance world like Stripe. The creator sold it for $250M only two years after starting it. The same guy started Shop Talk and sold it as well.

Here’s how you make money on creating trade shows. You cover your costs by either the tickets for entry from attendees or from the vendors who pay you to exhibit at your show. Then you make all your money on the other half. You can also motorize with sponsorships, concessions, etc.

Sam argues, to be successful, your trade show needs to have the transactions needed to attract the vendors to pay to come to your trade show. So if you can convince the vendors they will make money due to all the transactions (purchases or future purchases from attendees), you’ll have a winning trade show. This is why trade shows are different than conferences. Conferences don’t have the transaction aspect like trade shows do.

The vendors that you pre-sell end up paying for the capital expenditures needed to put on a show. Then you make all your profit from the ticket sales from attendees.

There’s riches in the (trade show) niches…

I think it’s possible to niche down and create a simpler (and smaller) trade show that would be more amenable to those of us who want to keep their work load low. Especially if you figure out how to do it virtually perhaps by using the Hopin platform, for example.

If you chose the right niche, you could find the biggest influencer on social media in that niche and piggy back on their audience to get ticket sales. You may offer the social media influencer a cut of ticket sales. Once you sell tickets and gathered a lot of attendees you can prove to vendors your show has serious “transaction” potential and convince them to buy their digital booth.

Digitizing a trade show can also reduce capital expenditures, reduce staff, and lend itself to being a more friendly ‘soloprenuer’ type of business. Just what Shaan (and I) like.

So why not give it a shot?


How fans can make creators rich without giving a penny…

There’s a massive growing movement of “creators” these days. Basically, a creator is anyone who creates content and typically gives it away for free. This can include podcasters, newsletter writers, artists, Youtube channels, bloggers, etc.

If these creators do not monetize directly (charging a fee for access to their content), typically they might ask for “donations” and use services like Patreon or OnlyFans where fans can donate money directly to the creator.

For example a Youtube channel I have been supporting for years called Sailing La Vagabonde currently rakes in between $400,000 to $1,000,000 per year JUST IN DONATIONS using Patreon!


But what if there was a way fans could help creators financially without costing them a single penny?

Enter Astro. Astro is a debit card to support creators.

With an Astro debit card and checking account, it only takes a swipe to give back to your favorite creators at no cost to you — you’ll earn unique rewards, like limited edition merch or the chance to be featured with your favorite content creator.

Basically, you’ll forgo some of your credit card points and instead give that value to creators of your choice.

In addition to Astro, you can earn money via affiliate links like Amazon’s Associates program. So when one of your fans wants to purchase something at Amazon, they can use your link and sometimes up to 10% of the sale goes to you the creator in the form of a commission.

This is yet another way creators can support themselves doing what they love to do without your fans spending a single penny.

So maybe it’s time to pick up your hobby/passion again and start making bank!


That’s it for this week’s letter, guys. Hope you enjoyed it!

Subscribe so you don’t miss the next edition…you’re only one idea away! 🦄

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