Any Nigerian child born in the 70’s and 80’s will no doubt have fond memories of precious and semi-precious VHS tapes of birthday parties, naming ceremonies, award parties etc sitting, boxed away with VHS player that would be better placed in museums. With the migration of all things video to hard drives, DVD and cloud storage, there has been little hope left for these outdated relics of good times past. As if ‘compulsory expiration’ isn’t bad enough, a major problem with VHS tapes has always been sensitivity. VHS tapes are quite sensitive to sunlight, heat and water and can easily get damaged. Storage is another problem, as the information on 25 VHS tapes which take a up a small corner of a room, can probably fit on 10 DVDs in a small, compact case. I can imagine that there are several other families in this situation, and would love to just convert all their precious memories from VHS to good quality DVD.
Thus, a market certainly exists for the conversion of these relics to ‘watchable’ memories. So here’s the plan in a nutshell:
VHS tapes are sensitive to sunlight, heat and water. Sometimes, hungry VHS players ‘eat up’ tapes, and this means opening the player head and getting in there with a pen to reel the tapes (fond memories, yes?) . Storage is another concern; VHS boxes and tapes require much greater space than slim DVDs and jewel cases. VHS tapes are also difficult to search, forcing a watcher to fast-forward, stop and watch, fast-forward, etc.
A Business Solution:
Transfer VHS tapes to DVD using a range of options.
You will need:
- Your VCR, Adaptor + Software package, and a computer with a DVD burner.
The computer you probably own; if not, an inexpensive computer with DVD burner which costs about N80,000 at somewhere like Computer Village (Lagos). If you haven’t got a DVD burner, you can purchase one separately for less than N10,000 from Computer Village. Please ensure that you have enough space on your hard drive for this. As a rough guide, an hour of video would take about 750MB of hard drive space.
An adaptor would likely come with a software package which would help with the video quality. There are several on the market, like this one on Amazon for less than £25. (or order it through our friends at Icanstock for N9,000). This is the most important part of this process, and here is what the device looks like. CNET recommend the Elgato model (about N35,000) as this is compatible with both the PC and the Mac.
The process is simple: Connect the coloured plugs of the adaptor to you VCR, and the USB portion to your computer, and install the software. You should then be guided through the process. For a step-by-step visual guide, you can watch or download CNET’s step-by-step video
Market the Product:
The beauty of this business model is that you can market this anywhere in Nigeria, as long as you have a good chance of getting electricity. I would even go as far as saying remote villages and towns are probably even better markets, as the competition is even less. Develop a catchy name and tag line for your service, order business cards (or get some as included in icanstock’s package), start a free/low-cost website and include the address for this on your business card.
Research your market and price your service accordingly. What are your operational costs? Take into account the cost of each CD and packaging, fuel per hour required to complete each job, and your labour costs. It might be sensible to offer bulk packages, as most people are likely to have more than one VHS for conversion anyway, allowing you to generate more income through economies of scale.
In the interest of keeping your overhead costs low, how can you get some free or low cost publicity for your service? Perhaps, you can display your business cards at strategic places, such as shops or service centres, and advertise on classifieds websites like OLX and Tradestable. Outlets like Dealdey could also market these excellently if you offer a deal, but again be careful not to discount too deeply, as they will charge at least 20% of your sale price. People will happily pay you to provide this service, especially knowing the sort of sentimental values attached to a lot of family videos, coupled with the limited availability and technical challenges some might face in converting these treasure troves to a more accessible format.
This is a good idea that needs to be marketed properly, and to the right people. Succeed in this, and you will do well. All the best!