Thursday, April 17, 2008

A long winded Introduction

I am borne of Noble Gallente stock. Today, I am a successful Mineral Trader, but I wasn't always. Let me give you a not so short introduction of who I am and how I got here.
I graduated from the Center of Advanced Studies about 4 months ago having learned how to mine asteroid belts and how to process that ore into the raw materials used to build nearly every item available to the citizens of New Eden. Being young and innocent, I ended up going to school a second time, to better round out my early education. It seems that many pilots have second and even third helpings of school early on, so I was not discouraged. Thankfully, the tuition is free.

Finally moving on, I began mining in Cistuvaert flying my gifted Velator. Although the school provides the minimum required equipment to begin one's career, I quickly learned that the equipment is shoddy at best and is worth about as much as a snow cone to a polar bear. I earned enough money to upgrade my equipment and finally ship to an Imicus, which although does not enjoy the bonus to mining, it does sport a much larger cargo hold compared to other inexpensive frigates available. I fly back and forth between the belts and the space station hundreds of times, until I could afford an industrial ship. I would jetison a can fill it up just enough to to load the Iteron Mark I, and I would fly back and return with that ship. I found I made a lot more money doing this by reducing the number of trips I had to take to the space station with my load. I however often getting frustrated by how choked the asteroid belt can be with competition, and how quickly the belts can be depleted and how long it remains depleted before another stretch of the asteroid belt moves into range. I moved on into Aidert, which has no space station to call home. However; it has little to no competition, and sports higher quality asteroid belts. I quickly learned though that Rats are rampant. Almost as soon I started collecting a good haul of ore to bring home, I was prevented from continuing my labors as soon as a roving band of rats decided to show up. They never leave on their own and stick around, so once the rats have shown up, an ill equipped new miner has no chance of profiting from this system. I returned to Custuvaert to ply whatever scraps I could find available. I however also quickly learned that your ore can be easily stolen. I also learned the hard way that you don't want to do anything about it.

One day while I was mining in my Imicus, a person initiated a private conversation with me, and offered some advice on how to improve my profits and so forth. He also donated 15 million ISK to help me get along. At this time, 15 Million ISK seemed like a lifetime's worth of income, and I initially declined it but he insisted I keep it. I ended up giving the money to another needy spacefarer whom I don't even remember now.

Let me rewind here a little. When I decided to live the life of a space pilot, I had initially decided that I would go at it alone and to prove my individual mettle against the harsh life of space alone. I wanted to show the universe that you do not need to rely on people who ultimately have the same ability to take as much as give. I had my mind set on succeeding or failing under my own power.

Fastforward - After having developed my friendship with that early benefactor name Valushon, decided to give teamwork a try. He convinced me that there are huge resources and experiences that can only be tapped through teamwork, so I decided that perhaps since he is a good person, that the rest of his crew might also be. I joined Ex Caminus with excitement, and also with the feeling of entering that unknown of living a life that requires you depend on you chosen group of comrades. I was given some instruction on how to improve my learning curve but studying the liberals arts which essentially teaches a person how to study and be an "educated" fellow. Very quickly I doubled my speed of learning most things. This is much better than having to go through school twice just to a better grasp of the simplest things. Ex Caminus provided me access to sources of information to swiftly improve my profitability as a miner, most notably showing me where to find the finest work on mining available, "Halada's Guide to Mining". Let me digress and tell you this is the single most essential guide to succeeding in a mining career. There are some things that force me to disagree with Hilada, but overall there is no better source of information for a miner publically available. If you wish to become a truly successful miner, this is must read manual.

After being in Ex Caminus for a few weeks, and having recruited a majority portion of new membership and bringing them up to speed as young miners. The corporation's CEO decided that although I was also young, I had the drive necessary to successfully lead a team of industrialists. He therefore gave me a huge promotion and made me the Director of Mining for the corporation. I literally was leading the mining division of our corporation flying no more than a cruiser. I quickly trained into a Retreiver, and was a productive force for the corporation. Although the Retreiver isn't the productive monster that a Hulk is, if one is persistent and one develops the right support skills, one can mine as much or more in a retreiver as a hulk pilot can with zero support skills. I therefore trained those support skills before training for a Hulk, because I was increasing my profits and benefiting from them sooner that i would had I simply make that beeline in my education to piloting the massive Hulk.

Pretty quickly after my promotion into D-level management, things started to go sour in the corp for me. I found myself becoming more and more at odds with the rest of management because we didn't agree on some very minor but apparently touchy issues. In the end, I gathered up my things and left the corp, and once again had planned on going it either alone, or running my own show as CEO of my own corporation.

My old division mates and I started a new corp Valence Interstellar Operations under the leadership of Veriasse Valence. Our old corp, Ex Caminus, went to war with us over our sudden departure and liberating our assets. There wasn't much of a fight, and we settled our differences, and moved on.

In the meantime I had been studying to pilot a hulk now, and I had all the support skills necessary to reap maximum profit from its operation once I could fly it. One of my corp mates helped me purchase my hulk loaning me the remainder of the money I would need to buy one. I bought one and man, you can mine a LOT of ore in a hulk when you are trained and equipped properly. However as soon as I earned enough money to pay back this loan, I was so sick of mining, and I only mined at times when I didn't really need to pay attention. A Hulk fitted with cargo expanders has a cargo bay just a few m3 short of a similarly fitted Interon Mark IV, so jetcan mining became a thing of the past. The time it takes to run home and switch ships, and haul ore now exceeds the time it takes to just haul the ore home in your mining vessel and returning to mine some more. Couple that with the fact that it takes approximately 15 minutes to fill a Hulks cargo hold, and mining becomes a passive activity rather than one requiring constant attention. I very quickly became bored of mining, and once I paid off my debts, I looked for other ways to profit.

I looked into trading as a profit source, our CEO wasn't so keen on the idea of sinking our assets into trade, having been convinced that the market place is just as harsh a PvP environment as low-sec pirating, so I decided to try it alone with my own assets. I quickly learned there was an amazing market for minerals when they were hauled to the right place. As a miner, I often hauled my own higher-end minerals to far off stations to maximize my profits, but when it came to Tritanium and Pyrite, it was more profitable to just dump them on a local buyer and continue mining than it was to spend the time hauling many many loads to get a few extra percent profit. I had however been training to pilot an Iteron Mark V, and when I fitted that ship out with Cargo Expanders, I found that I profited about as much or more hauling and trading minerals as I was mining in my hulk. After a few days of hauling, I found that I could afford to rig my ship with Astronautics Rigs (the much more expensive rig equivelent of cargo expanders), and this increased my profitability quite a bit. My Iteron Mark V, fully rigged and outfitted can carry a few m3 shy of 49233.1 m3. A full load carried a good profit, and I was making a pretty good hunk of cash for just a little hauling back and forth between mining outposts and mineral trade centers. I reported my successes back to my corporation who was becoming a bit antsy at my lack of participation in the corporations primary function which is mining. I even sold my hulk so I had more working capital to work with. However we worked out that since I was so successful in trade as an early trader perhaps I should be handing trade and commerce for the corporation, and so this is what I began to do.

I however quickly ran into a problem. There was now a conflict of interest, I was trading for the corp and I was trading for myself. That in an of itself is no issue until you consider that the product was exactly the same, Minerals. This wouldn't be such an issue if there was trust involved, trust that allowed me to ameliorate my trading with the corporation's, however the CEO of the corporation wanted to see the trades occuring directly to and from the corporation's wallet. I was not permitted to take the minerals for trade and transfer the profits in from my own wallet. Here is the problem with that. When setting up sale orders or even dumping minerals on existing buy orders, whose minerals do I sell first? Mine or the corps? If I set up sale's orders for myself, and separate sales orders for the corp, then how do I control which gets filled first? In the end it would have been more useful to pool the minerals together, thereby increasing the volume of our buy and sales orders, however it didn't work out. This coupled with the fact that the CEO of our corporation stopped showing up led me to decide I need to move on to my own as I initially intended all along so many months ago. I donated all my mining equipment to the corp, my crystals and mining modules and such, and I relinquished my roles and when the timer ran out, I left the corp. Three days later the CEO finally noticed my disappearance with an apology for not being around and the teaser that he was planning on leaving the corp to me as CEO because he was no longer interested in being a pilot and planned to return planetside permanantly. As far as I know that corp still exists, and I know that Veriasse is still alive, because send him the occasional message saying hello with an update on my life, but I haven't heard from him since.

A few days after leaving ValOps and having made some friends in The Scope, I had a discussion with veteran pilot about whether there was any consequences to firing upon cannisters. Jetison cannister do not incur the wrath of CONCORD and I believed at the time that this would also be true for secure containers as well. She wanted to bet on it, and I jokingly said I would bet 3 billion ISK on it. I thought that would be an apparent joke, but she seriously considered the bet and she asked if I would pay up if I lost the bet. Of course I told her that I was only joking and don't have a tiny fraction of that, however apparently she DID have that kind of money if she was serious. Anyway, although I had at this time several hundred million isk, i wasn't willing to risk it, I told her so and that I really was only willing to bet 1 million because I was saving up for a freighter and it takes quite a bit of time to build that sort of cash. Anyway, we tested shooting a cannister and I lost. I paid up. However, because I was hoping for and looking for people to loan me the money to get into a freighter and/or loan me theirs while I work on getting my own (including my ex CEO from Ex Caminus whom I have become friendly with again), I decided to give her a try. I told her how I have the skills necessary to pilot one, that I was impatient and didn't want to wait the 2 months it was going to take to afford a freighter and still have enough working capital to use it effectively. Anyway, all said and done a perfect stranger pretty much gave me with no strings attached (meaning she just transfered the cash, no contract) gave me 1 billion ISK. Terms are 50 million a week interest paid until the principle can be returned in one lump sum. So if I have the billion in a month, I have paid 200 million in interest up to then, if it takes 2 months, then 400 million. Anyway the weekly payment is strictly interest.

I realized a little too late that I missed one skill in the requirements, and I still had about 5 more days of training before I could fly the ship, and my interest was already kicked in and I would have to start paying in a week. Instead of continuing to run trade routes with my Iteron, I sunk all my assets into buy orders and bought up as much mineral as I could so that when I finally could get into amy freighter I had something to haul and trade right away. That day came soon enough, I made so much money on that first and second day buying and selling, that I made my first payment and retained a lot of profit in the bargin. As it turns out, when you have the vehicle to carry your goods, you can make a major profit just moving stuff around.

In the less than two weeks that I have been flying my freighter, I have profitted nearly 1 billion ISK. Payment Day is today, and it won't hurt a bit. Once I have 2 billion in my wallet, I will pay back the principle of one billion. Why wait that long? Because you need working capital.
I incorporated my own corp this time. It's called "Interstellar Tritanium Solutions Team", and two of my old corp mates joined me. They are doing other things and it is more of a social arrangement with benefits, they mine and hunt pirates, and I buy their ore from them at fair market value. This means I pay them a good price and they make more money than if they dumped their ore on any generic mineral trader, and more than if they hauled it themselves. In fact, all of my miners and by that I mean any and all miners that operates in my four region of operations, I ensure get a fair deal for their minerals. I do't undercut them knowing they have no choice, I want them to want to sell to me because they get a good deal. I make my money by bringing it to the people who need it.

A miner is who I am, and trade is what I do.

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