info_dude ?


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As a dedicated Pirate and privacy advocate, I am always interested in ways to create an invisible business, along the lines of those recommended by J. J. Luna in his latest book, 'Work From Home at Any Age.'

Recently, a young high school student sent me his simple, but brilliant idea for a low profile, no overhead, small business. This savvy student is well acquainted with the concepts that Luna recommends. He also has a nose for smelling an opportunity when it presents itself, as any successful Pirate should.

At a time when most high school students are busily playing the typical boyfriend/girlfriend, he said/she said game, this observant student simply connected the dots presented to him, instead drawing a picture of opportunity for personal gain.

This student realized that his local market was seeking information daily that was not currently available, but for which ready buyers existed. Opportunity comes knocking. Presto! An information service was born.

For a small cash fee, this student obtains whatever information his client requests, through simple surveillance; all conducted in public areas on campus, with no illegal activity involved whatsoever. No digging through backpacks, no breaking into school lockers, no bullying, and no roughing up anyone. Simple surveillance only.

This student is successful because he knows that most students are oblivious to those around them. They routinely engage in conversations in public'with others well within earshot'that should be reserved for behind closed doors.

As a high school teacher myself, I can attest to the accuracy of the above statements. Every day I overhear very private conversations that are none of my business and that I would rather not hear, simply by being present in my classroom.

Upon learning of his business, I asked him how he made the connection from concept to first client. He replied, 'Discreet enquiry via a third party.'

When his first potential client learned that a readily available source of obtaining the needed information existed, the deal was done. A small business was started. Word of mouth did the rest. It is currently up and running, with plenty of interested clients.

In a month, this student earned almost $200 in his spare time on campus'with no boss, no overhead, and no taxes. This is a viable model for high school students everywhere.

No overhead, no partners, starting small, and affordable fees all ensured the financial success of this small, invisible business, as Luna recommends.

Upon learning that this student was currently generating written reports for clients and communicating with them online via IM, I recommended two changes: discontinue hard copy written reports and discontinue communicating via IM.

I also recommended that this student set up a free AnonMail e-mail account just for his business, plus separate accounts for each of his clients. Why? Total privacy via an SSL connection, plus strong e-mail encryption, all conducted via secure offshore servers located in Germany , with no paper, no copies, no names, and all with privacy, for free.

In addition, by setting up the client's e-mail account himself and passing the username and passphrase to the client, this student appears to be technically savvy by using state of the art encryption; he is a professional who knows what he is doing and he acts the part.

No need to download any software, no learning curve for clients, no problem. Just the ticket for a young Pirate with loads of potential clients clamoring for information.

Why discontinue communicating with clients via IM? The potential for monitoring poses a privacy concern that is easily avoided by using AnonMail instead.

This small, invisible business is a hit with students. Clients get the information they need, the info_dude ' gets paid, and everyone is happy. No laws are broken, the market provides an elegant solution, and a niche market gets served.

How can you beat this? Zero overhead and good markup, with a pool of willing clients.

His slogan: 'Tell me what you need.' His advertising campaign currently consists of word of mouth only, but he is planning on making one info_dude ' t-shirt and printing some inexpensive business cards.

If you are interested in contacting this young Pirate for more information, please send me an e-mail. I will forward it to the info_dude '.

If I get sufficient interest, I will write a short report of exactly how this student operates his new business, with tips and lessons learned, and make it available here.

If you find any of my ramblings useful, please consider sending a few bucks to STR , to keep this site a viable source of information for Pirates, and anyone else interested in privacy.

info_dude ' 2006. All rights reserved

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Joe Blow is a privacy advocate with proven subspecialties in strategic planning.  Note: Pirate Poop is now a free newsletter, available by email only. Send all subscription requests to