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Tanweer Ali
Tanweer Ali

Posted on • Originally published at

How I Built My First Online Business With Zero Dollars

Back in 2019, I was brainstorming ideas for a business.

I already knew how to code in Python and knew the data stack pretty well.

At that time I was playing around with the Open Exoplanet Catalog dataset trying to find habitable planets. (Yes, I really did lol)

Then a few weeks passed and I found out about a side hustle called "Phone Flipping". Which consists of buying phones for a low price and reselling them at a higher price on sites like eBay.

I then decided to dig more so I joined a couple phone resale groups on Facebook.

And I noticed something, a recurring question from phone resellers.

A lot of them were asking others for help when appraising and estimating phone prices.

Asking questions such as:

Hey! I just bought an iPhone, how much should I resell it for?

I found what I was looking for.

A problem, now I needed a solution.

I knew that eBay was the main marketplace where iPhones were getting sold in the US.

And since I was into data science and I knew web scraping, that's exactly what I did.

I started pulling phone pricing data every single day of the week and running analysis on it inside a Jupyter Notebook on my Thinkpad X230.

Photo of a Thinkpad laptop

I built an MVP in a couple weeks and released it to the world. Everything was built using Python and It was running on a local Debian Linux server in my bedroom.

This is how it worked:

  1. Pull pricing data from eBay using Scrapy
  2. Store data in text files
  3. Clean data and analyze
  4. Plot data in graphs inside Jupyter Notebook
  5. Generate PDF reports from Jupyter Notebook
  6. Send PDF reports using Gmail's SMTP Mail server

I had a free and paid monthly plan which I was charging $40 per month.

My first client was a Sprint store manager, when I saw that $40 deposited on my Paypal account I was the happiest man alive.

I then started sharing the pricing charts on multiple Facebook Groups every Friday morning.

I ended up with hundreds of free and paid users.

Then in 2020, the pandemic happened and I lost all my paying customers.

I took down everything.

I couldn't sustain it, it was too overwhelming for me.

I lost my business but I gained a ton of experience.

This is a short rewrite of another article of mine in Startup Stash.

Top comments (1)

pizofreude profile image

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