After consulting our real estate agent, Jody Draper from Keller Williams, he informed us that there is AT LEAST 11 months of inventory for properties in the area, and we have to prepared to wait till the market picks up like everyone else.
I recalled hearing something about a house giveaway and thought to myself, why not try something different…so, we brainstormed and figured out what could work, what could not work. After coming up with a rough idea, we talked to our friends, and they love the idea. Our original asking price was a $199 entry fee, and if we could not reach our $300,000 target, we would refund everyone’s money. Then my friends said, that’s too much for them….so we asked them what would be a “no brainer” price, and they said $20….thus we set our price to $19.95. We knew that we would need 15,000 entries to get this target but we were hopeful…we wanted to trust our faith on the will of God, and see what happens.
Our second objective is to help non-profits at the same time. We know that this year will be a tough year for many people, and the donation pool would be less than better years. We then thought, if we don’t meet our target, instead of refunding everyone’s money, why not donate it to charity. People would not mind losing $20, if it would go to a good cause….so we picked three non-profits we liked: Habitat for Humanity, Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, and Citizens for health.
Thirdly, we know that this could generate a huge amount of response and didn’t want to have to deal with servers going down….so we though how can we use existing technologies without creating our own website….being an internet marketer and a technologist, I am familiar with Digg and WordPress. We decided to use WordPress to host our site, and use Digg for voting. We wanted to do something different than previous competitions where the judges made the decision….we wanted to let the Internet decide which story is the most worthy. Digg has been around for years, and they are familiar with people trying to “game the system”. So, we decided to use Digg as our voting mechanism.
Our other concern was legal. So, we consulted our lawyer. He said that according to our terms of service, this is a game of skill, which falls under a contest…which is not a lottery…which is purely a game of chance. Only the State can operate a lottery. So, with all these things figured out, we decided to launch the site with a press release on Oct 30, 2008.
We had to fine tune a bunch things to tweak the offering, and the site while things came in. We sent emails to all our friends and asking them to tell their friends. Then after we are satisfied with the site, and the process, we made a press release announcement to local TV/Radio/Newspapers in the Eugene area.
Within 24 hours, we received an interview request from KEZI TV station. Paris from the station came and interviewed me on Saturday, and the first story aired on Sat evening at 11pm, 8th of Nov.
On Monday the 10th, there was a follow up story on KEZI featuring our story on 6 O’clock news! It was a story announcing that this was a potential illegal lottery, with a very threatening tone from the Dept. of Justice. The implication was very scary. But this generated a tonne of interest.
The next morning, we received an interview request from the Register Guard. They went to the property and interviewed me on Wednesday, and the story came out on Friday; on the front page of the City Region section.
This morning (Monday Nov 17), I received a phone call with a phone interview with the Seattle Post. And a radio interview with “The Ron and Don Show”, News Talk 97.3 KIRO FM.
Over the weekend, we have received about 30 applicants.
Some people have asked me, how can I possibly hope to get enough entrants to reach our $300,000 target. Firstly, I think our story is quite novel, and should get sufficient media attention. We added the $100,000 cash prize alternative for those who are not in Oregon and do not want to move here.
Secondly, unlike previous competitions, we are using the Internet as a voting body…not me. By asking the contestants to drum up their own support….they will be highly incentivised to tell their friends to vote for them. Once their friends read about the offer, they will either tell their friends or enter themselves….thus, it is my theory that by creating an environment that empowers the users to spread the news about the offer, that we will get a lot more attention than other offers of this type.
If each contestant tell 10 people, and each of those tell 10 people…the number of people who will know about our offer will escalate very quickly.
So, this is where we are as of now. I will continue to blog our development and progress as more develops.