Selling electronics kits to drunk folk on Saturday night

This Saturday we provided phosphene-hallucination visor kits at less than cost of production for sale at one of the VIA music festival events. It was an interesting experience, honestly somewhat stressful, and there are some things I would have done differently in retrospect. One person unfamiliar with electronics soldering and assembly was able to build a kit over the course of 3 hours, which is a good sign. I was able to build about five kits standing there. We also sold all the pre-assembled demo models.

What I learned:
  • Most people don't know how to solder and build things.
  • Some small fraction of technically experienced people will buy electronics kits at music shows
  • People who don't know how to solder will happily buy the assembled demo models, but then might not understand the physical limits of the device or how to repair it if it becomes damaged.
  • Selling for less than cost of production does not necessarily make people more likely to buy your stuff.
  • Its hard for people to pay in cash, and it costs money to take credit cards.
  • My salesperson skills could use some work.
What would I do differently :
  • Prepare business cards for people to contact me again later, and hand those out.
  • Run soldering workshops at hacker-spaces, so that people who don't know how to solder can use the kit under supervision to learn how to solder.
  • Learn how to take credit cards
  • Have someone else handle the actual sales pitch because I just don't have the heart for it.


  1. I have seen small vendors using this to accept credit cards: https://squareup.com/

    I've only used it once, at a coffee shop in Tempe, but it might be perfect for you!

  2. Cool. Someone mentioned that last night, but also said that they weren't happy with the fees. I don't actually own a phone that is new enough to be compatible with the technology, but thats something I can work on.

    One suggestion that seemed good was to take down e-mails and then use PayPal. This sounds like a good plan, assuming the transactions through PayPal incur fewer fees than through Square.

  3. I think PayPal actually charges about 10%. Also, what if someone gave you a fake email?

  4. I'll have to check that. Last few paypal transactions have only incurred a 1.3% fee. The person who suggested Paypal noted that you could only do it if you really trust your customers and have an internet connection at hand to verify that the email is valid.