Description

My guest today is Matt Miller, Founder and President of School Spirit Vending, a vending machine company that helps schools fundraise internally rather than asking children to go door to door.

In today’s episode, we discuss:

What it felt like to be so poor that he was declined for a payday loan.
How $100 opened the door to a million dollar business
The importance of homeschooling and how parents are an essential (and often missing) ingredient to help children understand entrepreneurship and basic business skills.
How you can quickly get started building your own vending machine empire
Matt was concerned with the current fundraising model of selling magazines and popcorn and decided to do something about it. His idea was to create a vending machine business to literally keep the kids off the streets, but still allow schools a way to fundraise.

Matt was a corporate guy and his parents taught him to go to school, get a job and work a 9-5 so that he can retire. Like many of us, this quickly seemed unfulfilling. He dreamed of being his own boss and could no longer stand the idea of selling his time to someone else. He HAD to become his own boss. When Matt lost his job, he was in a very difficult financial position. He had a wife and several children to support, but very little means to do so. Collecting aluminium cans only went so far.

One day, in church, Matt was chatting with a friend who had recently bought a few simple gumball machine. Matt was surprised to hear that these gumball machines were actually generating noticeable revenue. Quarters can still add up quite substantially and he had to know more. After a few weeks of scouting the Internet to learn as much as possible, he and his daughters jumped in the car to purchase a single gumball machine for $100. This was the start of Matt’s appreciation and love for vending machines which is now his passion and business.

He went from being broke (and not being eligible for a payday loan) to franchising a vending machine company and helping entrepreneurs and schools all over the nation learn how to generate wealth. Join us to hear more about Matt’s journey and why vending machines may be a good opportunity for you to build the lifestyle that you desire and deserve.

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Meet the hosts

Ashe Whitener is the founder and host of the Liberty Entrepreneurs Podcast which aims to provide an alternative perspective to achieving individual freedom through the creative, entrepreneurial process rather than through the tried and failed process of politics. Ashe has two BS degrees in Engineering and is also an original member of Peter Schiff’s Euro Pacific Bank where he is currently the Head of Business Development. Much of Ashe’s experience has come during his time living in Panama and he continues to consult global teams on various projects including tech startups and offshore asset protection.

discussions

  • I wasn’t real sure where to put this, but I was curious if there are any Digital Nomads in the Liberty.me community. I’d love to hear your story. What do you do? How did you get started? Where have you been past, present and future?

    Jump to Discussion Post 5 replies
  • I am a beekeeper, and I primarily sell my honey wholesale to stores.  For most of the stores, I deliver cases of honey with no price tags.  I let the store deal with that.   I have one store that insists on being a pain.  They have over 300 suppliers of local products on consignment, and everything is on a computer inventory system.  When I started selling there, I was required to put price tags on with a regular price tag gun, and to also put a 4 digit SKU code on the price tag.  The cashier just enters the 4 digit code into the cash register computer – the customer is charged the correct price, and it also adjusts the inventory and sales records.   The store has a brilliant marketing idea, and they have a great location in a huge shopping center. (50K people a day visit this shopping center.)  And they just opened up a 2nd store at another shopping center that just got built.  But the store has serious management problems.  They have hired too many people because they were friends, instead of hiring workers based upon competency.  As a result, the cashiers are incredibly slow.  I’ve seen them take 5 minutes to ring out customers when it should have taken less than a minute.  (I used to be an assistant manager of a gas station when I was 20, so I know how quickly you can clear a line of customers.)   The owner knows there are problems with checkout times.  They have been encouraging vendors to put bar code price tags on items to help speed up checkout times.  Starting 1/31/16, the bar codes will now be mandatory.   If they didn’t sell so much honey, I would tell them to go pound sand and not sell honey there anymore.  As it is, I made over $600 last month.  (Most of the stores I sell to, buy about $300 a month from me.)   My problem is that I am technologically impaired.  (I grew up without a tv or telephone.)  I still use a flip phone and don’t have a tv.  I don’t have an Ipad or laptop – my computer is a desktop, and desktop computers have served me well for 15 years.  I have the labels for my honey bottles custom printed.  The people at the store tried telling me some gibberish about how to print my own bar code labels, but they might as well have been talking Greek to me.   Does anyone have any experience printing bar code labels?  Or is anyone interested in some work printing some bar code labels for me?  I need 3 different bar codes for the 3 sizes of honey I sell at that store. (12 oz $7.00, 16 oz $9.00, and 32 oz $16.00.)   I would probably only be buying 1000-2000 labels a year. I am currently paying around 14 cents a label for glossy, color labels for my honey bottles.  I only need a basic black and white bar code label that I can stick on my bottles.   The store that sells my honey calls itself a small business incubator.  I considered asking management to ask other vendors if they were interested in printing labels for other vendors (like me) who are technologically impaired, and have absolutely no interest in printing my own labels.   But I thought I would ask you all first, and see if anyone here was interested in some work.  I don’t do bitcoin, but I do PayPal or can mail a check.

    Jump to Discussion Post 16 replies
  • In today’s world, is beekeeping an ideal libertarian occupation?   I am a beekeeper.  I have beehives located on other people’s farms, on a handshake agreement with the landowner.  Bees will fly 2 miles in every direction, gathering nectar from lands owned by other people.   Beekeeping (apiculture) is the oldest form of agriculture in the world.  Some of the oldest known laws deal with beekeeping.  Historically, beekeepers owned the hives, and the contents of the hives.  Free-flying individual bees were “God’s bees”, which prevented beekeepers from trespassing onto any of the 5000 acres in that 2 mile radius of the hive, if the beekeeper were pursuing their “escaped livestock”.  (Laws in some countries do permit a beekeeper to pursue a swarm of bees as long as the beekeeper has maintained eyesight of the swarm at all times since it left the hive.)   As a beekeeper, you are an entrepreneur.  The old-time bee books suggest that a beekeeper should consistently be able to get a 35% return on investment (ROI) annually.  It may vary from year to year, but you should be able to average 35% annually.  (Personally, I find 50% to be very achievable.  I have 75 hives, and around $30,000 in bees and equipment, and I have had almost $18,000 in honey sales so far this year.)  It is not uncommon for beekeepers to double their money in a year.   I helped a small commercial beekeeper in 2010 who ran 820 hives for honey production.  He had his best year ever, and we harvested 161,000 pounds of honey.  He sold every drop as cash sales, and accepted no checks.  (I personally witnessed one sale of $40,000 in cash.  It took the buyer a couple weeks for his bank to be able to get him that much cash.)  He sold the honey for $1.65-$2.00 a pound, depending on the quantity purchased. Myself and the beekeeper took care of the hives and pulled honey, and there were 2 other cash labor workers back at the workshop extracting the honey.   I live in Ohio.  In 1904, Ohio passed legislation giving state inspectors the right to inspect all beehives and equipment and all your facilities whenever they wanted.  This legislation was in response to a disease affecting honeybees called foulbrood which slowly killed hives and would spread to other hives.  At the time, the government’s solution was to burn the hive to prevent the spread of foulbrood.  By the 1940’s, there were antibiotics which cured the bees. (Sulfathiazole)  But the government program was already functioning, and it is hard to stop a government program once it has been started.  Residues of sulfathiazole were found in honey, and eventually the use of sulfathiazole was banned, but by that time a safer antibiotic Terramycin was already in use. (Terramycin is still a common livestock antibiotic, and can be purchased without a veterinary prescription.)   Eventually, beekeepers got tired of state inspectors burning their hives when the inspectors claimed to have found foulbrood.  (Inspectors were often beekeepers too, and it was not unknown for inspectors to burn out competitor beekeepers under the guise of controlling foulbrood.)  Some beekeepers ultimately filed a lawsuit against the state, and in 1986, the US Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit ruled that the mandatory inspections were a violation of the 4th Amendment protections of unwarranted searches.  (However, it did still allow inspectors to inspect beehives with the beekeeper’s permission.) http://www.leagle.com/decision/19871988808F2d1180_11791/ALLINDER%20v.%20STATE%20OF%20OHIO   While I am “supposed” to register the locations of my beehives with the state, it is very common for beekeepers not to register their hives.  But should I obey a law, if there is no enforcement of that law?   I personally filed Freedom of Information Act requests with the State of Ohio, in an effort to see how many violations of beekeeping laws there had been.  Since 1904 to date, the State of Ohio is unable to find records of a single prosecution for a violation of ANY beekeeping law.  However, in subsequent FOI requests, I was able to document thousands of instances of violations of law committed by bee inspectors who had failed to follow proper reporting requirements for inspections.   I suspect that most beekeepers who watch a few YouTube videos on bee diseases, may in fact be better educated than the state bee inspectors.   In 2013, I attended Apimondia, an international beekeeping conference, which was held in Ukraine that year.  Ukraine is a terribly corrupt country.  It still remains heavily socialist, and is not at all friendly to small businesses.  Despite such a hostile environment, Ukraine is the number 5 honey producing country in the world. 1.5% of the population are beekeepers.  (If you travel across the rural countryside, it is astonishing how many beehives you see.)   Why is beekeeping so successful in Ukraine?  It is because everyone can afford the cost of a beehive, and you can go from wild lands to harvesting a marketable product with zero opportunities for corrupt government regulators to force you to pay fees and bribes at every step of the way. (Which is how most business ventures in Ukraine are.)  Not only that, you can sell your honey as a street vendor for cash, depriving the government of the opportunity to tax your earnings.   I believe beekeeping is an ideal libertarian occupation or hobby.  You are an entrepreneur.  You get to harvest a crop gathered by bees on lands you do not have to pay to use, nor do you have to pay taxes on those lands.  The government has no way of knowing how many beehives you have, or where they are located, unless you choose to tell them.  You can sell your honey for cash, (I know beekeepers who sell $200,000+ a year in cash sales) and the government has no way of taxing you on your sales, unless you tell the government what your cash sales were.  It is virtually impossible for the government to enforce any beekeeping regulations even if they wanted to.   Legendary investor Jim Rogers tells people they should learn how to be a farmer.  Beekeeping is a form of farming.

    Jump to Discussion Post 44 replies
  • A key point made by Fredrich Hayek in The University of Chicago Law Review (Spring 1949) is when he refers to the philosopher as the prince of the intellectuals. To understand this we have to separate ourselves from socialism. A philosopher within socialism is functionally no more (due to its incongruence with the human spirit) a prince than any other socialist, just a more decorated one. For Hayek’s statement to be true – ‘a philosopher is the prince of the intellectuals’ – there has to be freedom of the human spirit. The entrepreneurial spirit that is alert to human potential will tend to be philosophic. Here is an analogy: Entrepreneurs are alert to the human needs and the resources necessary to meet those needs – they are the driving force of the economy. In like manner philosophers alert to human potential lay the groundwork necessary for the advancement of civilization. Business people of all facets of commerce dutifully compete to get what the entrepreneurs discovered and all products and services to the consumers. In like manner the intellectuals diligently find ways to distribute this new philosophic information and information in general to human minds. Socialism is not only a system of depravity economically but ineludibly it is a system of shackled intellectual and philosophic expressiveness.

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