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Alaness

Telescope Business Idea Part 2

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I recently posted a topic asking if opening a brick and mortar telescope shop was worth it. I had a lot of helpful feedback and the answer was a clear "No".

Well I have another idea I'd like to run by you all - Renting telescope equipment. I think it's an area that is currently poorly served in the indistry. The few companies that offer such services have very limited ranges, and mostly consist if basic dobs.

My unique selling point will be holidays - say you're traveling to Spain and would like to take some astrophotography images while you're there, but you're put off by the idea of lugging your EQ6 Pro and 10 inch 'scope with you. Well, what if you can go online a week or so before your flight, pick what equipment you want to rent and chose to have it delivered to your hotel. Then when you arrive the equipment will be there waiting for you, no hassle (at least until you come to setting it up!). Once you're done the equipment can be collected and you can fly home with all your pictures.

Any feedback?

Alan.

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Well I'm going away to the Caribbean in January and was googling to see if anyone did just that. Couldn't find anyone doing it though.

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What will you hold a a guarantee of getting it back?

If they say it got "stolen" in Spain then who is responsible?

Hire a car and you get car insurance so the hirer can in effect walk away.

No insurer will pay out to you on the word of someone else who just happened to have the EQ6 Pro, TMB triplet and Atik camera "stolen".  You would have to carry the cost of any loss of equipment.

Also renting a scope is fine if you are within say 20 miles. I am not going to travel to Newport to pick up a scope, you are not going to drive to Cambridge to deliver, and carriers will not insure optical/glass equipment.

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Well I'm going away to the Caribbean in January and was googling to see if anyone did just that. Couldn't find anyone doing it though.

Ps I only wanted a Dob though!

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It might work - but not a best seller that's gonna make you rich imho. There would be a lot of maintenance between customers and you never know who you're hiring too so you'd have to take hefty deposits to ensure the scopes come back in reasonable condition. But better idea than opening a shop.

If you could run astro holidays that might be a spot more lucrative - customers could stay in a local hotel and you could supervise the equipment at a nearby observing site by night - and maybe do theory classes during the day......

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It might work - but not a best seller that's gonna make you rich imho. There would be a lot of maintenance between customers and you never know who you're hiring too so you'd have to take hefty deposits to ensure the scopes come back in reasonable condition. But better idea than opening a shop.

If you could run astro holidays that might be a spot more lucrative - customers could stay in a local hotel and you could supervise the equipment at a nearby observing site by night - and maybe do theory classes during the day......

Similar to what Olly does ;).

Edited by Naemeth

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Although I'm generally inclined to take people at face value and believe the astro community is considerably more decent/honest than the population average - I think if you are hiring a lot of high value precision equipment, it would be quite a risky venture and there are probably easier and safer routes to earn a reasonable return.     You would need a large investment to be able to provide the range and distribution of equipment that prospective users might require and for the size of investment and the implicit risks I think you would need to charge a premium to make this worthwhile.    In my own 'non astro' business I'm aiming to make 10-15% return on capital employed after costs - and these need to include the depreciation of the asset, maintenance, business overheads, staff costs and taxation.

If you're confident of the market, startup capital and the business model works on paper - then rerun the figures with a healthy dose of pessimism to include some accidental damage and equipment losses in transit and by theft.    And my golden rule of business - 'Never trust a courier to safely handle or deliver/collect on time'.

Probably not something I would consider, though I have been proved wrong many times!   

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I've often thought it would be a good idea for someone with the omph to buy a house in a 'developing-tourist' region in Spain.

What I mean by that term is an area not so much of sand and sea but that which includes mountain climbing, snow boarding, skiing, bird watching, hiking, local cuisine, interesting towns and villages and great skies at night. Now, places like Cateluña, Los Pirineos etc are already well catered for and very, very expensive. But there are 'developing' areas which are becoming more and more popular. Many Spanish folk and a growing number of European tourists are turning away from the coasts and looking for breaks elsewhere. Again, English is now such an international language that the demand for teaching is exceptional. Adults, children, retired folk are all looking for ways of learning and spend a good deal of money in doing so.

And here comes the business start up: a place where folk can rest up after a day's skiing or mountain climbing, where they can do star watching, visit local villages, savour the cuisine and if they fancy have a range of dynamic English classes and activities. I reckon folk from all over Europe would like an idea like this, and it could be catered to strictly business class, all classes or just children, maybe :grin:

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I've often thought it would be a good idea for someone with the omph to buy a house in a 'developing-tourist' region in Spain.

What I mean by that term is an area not so much of sand and sea but that which includes mountain climbing, snow boarding, skiing, bird watching, hiking, local cuisine, interesting towns and villages and great skies at night. Now, places like Cateluña, Los Pirineos etc are already well catered for and very, very expensive. But there are 'developing' areas which are becoming more and more popular. Many Spanish folk and a growing number of European tourists are turning away from the coasts and looking for breaks elsewhere. Again, English is now such an international language that the demand for teaching is exceptional. Adults, children, retired folk are all looking for ways of learning and spend a good deal of money in doing so.

And here comes the business start up: a place where folk can rest up after a day's skiing or mountain climbing, where they can do star watching, visit local villages, savour the cuisine and if they fancy have a range of dynamic English classes and activities. I reckon folk from all over Europe would like an idea like this, and it could be catered to strictly business class, all classes or just children, maybe :grin:

That sounds an attractive life style business to me, even better if the area has good wine and food to boost the appeal ;)

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I would hire one if the weather forecast was good.

It takes the worry out of damaging my own gear while travelling.

No need to worry about dropping it, knocks or dents.

I can use the gear blind drunk after I've had a few cans

And I don't need to bring in when it's raining.

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"Similar to what Olly does"

Yep - similar - except Olly hires out a gite on site for specific small groups and does full imaging and astro courses, whereas I'm suggesting astro customers could use a local hotel nearby and be responsible for their own bill. Alan could do one or two presentations in the hotel for them during the day - then arrange a shuttle to take them over to a fully equipped obsy or observing site by night.

That way it could be made available to anyone on a regular holiday who wanted to trip along for a one night session. Or it could be booked in advance for groups of say a dozen people at a time per presenter. Alan could negotiate a good room rate with the hotel and bus hire company cos he'd be bringing them extra custom - especially in winter months.

The advantages doing it this way are, minimal outlay on gear and, the gear is supervised rather than hired out, and no responsibility for customer subsistence. I could see it being  popular as a one or two night event as part of a regular family holiday - or bookable as a 3 day or 1 week session for amateur astro groups with a little more guts to the presentations. :)

Edited by brantuk
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Heres a company that does scope hire:

http://www.darkskytelescopehire.co.uk/

I don't know how much business they do though  :undecided:

Very interesting and pertinent link John - Seb's website/business looks really well thought through.     I'd love the chance to hire that OO 12" dob for a week, but not quite local enough for me - though it might be an idea if I'm travelling up for a star party or holiday at some point.

Quite a practical idea also for anyone wanting to trial a larger dob before buying - so hope you'll excuse the cross quote on to emadmoussa's thread.

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Heres a company that does scope hire:

http://www.darkskytelescopehire.co.uk/

I don't know how much business they do though  :undecided:

i hired a 6" dob from this company, on a camping holiday on exmoor, the scope was in spot on collimation and was a giant step up from my scope! Friendly and helpfull service £25 for the first nite £10 for the next....  or £40 for the week Brilliant!

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Right, I like that idea but you would need to have some equipment based in Spain. Hmm... do you know anyone in Spain that could help you out. <

Still it could be complicated especially given Spanish tax laws. I have thought of it myself to be honest.

There is not a lot of astro tourism I can find around here, even finding a holiday home with a scope is hard. Maybe the market is not there who knows but I do genuinely believe that if done correctly and with more knowledge than I have it would be one business that would stand a chance of being successful in this day an age in Spain.

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I would hire one if the weather forecast was good.

It takes the worry out of damaging my own gear while travelling.

No need to worry about dropping it, knocks or dents.

I can use the gear blind drunk after I've had a few cans

And I don't need to bring in when it's raining.

This should be enough to put you off the idea :grin:

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