A Man. A Van. A Surprising Business Plan.
January 4, 2012 1:44 PM   Subscribe

I had no problem with their business plan but why do they dress like Steve Zissou's interns.
posted by 2bucksplus at 1:52 PM on January 4, 2012 [5 favorites]

I hope he opens one in Poland.
posted by pracowity at 2:00 PM on January 4, 2012

2bucksplus: it's the "blue pullover fleeces that give the van an Apple Store vibe." I totally love that characterization.
posted by Nelson at 2:20 PM on January 4, 2012

That article's headline had promise, but it could've been so much better if they did this for the Panamanian consulate. And if the Panamanian consulate were on Canal Street.
posted by moonmilk at 2:22 PM on January 4, 2012 [4 favorites]

Adam says he can make almost $500 a day, but he's a little cagey about giving up the exact details of what they are raking in. They are afraid someone else will park a cargo van with a printer alongside them and start a price war.

Adam, you really shouldn't have talked to NPR.
posted by vidur at 2:28 PM on January 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

There's a first mover/brand recognition advantage here, and they can probably keep an edge with their "on-tap" mandarin speakers, a good understanding of the problem, and the sheer willingness to hang out in the cold handling things.

That said, if the problem gets solved via competition or the embassy starts doing a better job, that is also a good outcome. And then Adam can get a job as an "interesting consultant guy that did that thing that time".

Personally, this reminds me of the junk truck companies who will empty out your basement and then recycle and resell the stuff. I always wish I'd started one of those... I certainly cleaned out a lot of basements as a college student. Good on these guys.
posted by fake at 2:38 PM on January 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

but why do they dress like Steve Zissou's interns.

For the soundtrack.
posted by curious nu at 4:16 PM on January 4, 2012

I'd recommend expanding into other embassies in NYC first, many countries have awful visa processes. In fact, many consulates practically depend upon visa expediting services, like the U.K. I suppose those companies felt China's consulate didn't offer a high enough profit margin or something. India and Brazil don't offer Visa waivers for American citizens, for example.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:03 PM on January 4, 2012

The only unusual thing here is that they're operating out of a van...
posted by Bwithh at 10:11 PM on January 4, 2012

The only unusual thing here is that they're operating out of a van...

Well, if he actually drove you to the offices you need to go to, that would be very cool.

A number of times, I've had to go back and forth between government offices in different buildings in different parts of town trying to get paperwork straightened out to the satisfaction of different government departments with sometimes conflicting rules about the order in which approvals have to be received.

Department A wants to see stamps x and y before it will give me stamp z. Department B wants to see stamp z before it will give me stamp y. No one at department A or B knows how to get stamp x; that's my problem.

Each return trip to an office means waiting in a long line again and eventually holding up that long lien while you try to reason with someone who just wants you to go away. And of course you're doing this in the middle of a weekday when you should be at work, because government offices don't open when normal people have time to visit them.

I want my guy in a van.
posted by pracowity at 3:29 AM on January 5, 2012

"...35 years old, thrice divorced, and living in a van down by the consulate!"
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 4:30 AM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

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