Two and a Half Years of Top Flight Computers
Wow, I can’t believe it’s already been 2.5 years and Top Flight Computers is still going, and doing better every day. None of this would have happened without the support, guidance, and feedback from all of you. I thank you Mom, Dad, Nate, and Amanda from the bottom of my heart.
I especially thank you Kellie, Stephan, Ben, David, Peter, Joann, Grandmother, Chris, Abdoulaye, Tony, Michael, Adam, Matt, Edward, Kim, and Shane. A big thank you to all the rest of you, we wouldn’t be here without you!
Now here’s a summary of the progression of the company by year. I’ll skip 2015, because even though I started the company in 2015, I started it with only a few weeks left, and nothing happened in that time period.
As Top Flight Computers is my first business, I was essentially flying blind. Not deaf, just blind. I had my family for support, but no business experience myself. Starting out, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do (not even what I NEEDED to do). For a while, I was making mistakes that might have cost me good leads, but I was starting out.
Needless to say, I was a rookie at running a business, and it was a trial by fire...to put it lightly. The first 6 months had almost zero engagement on social media, and no emails. I didn't know about Google Analytics at this point, so I didn't know if my website was getting traffic either. Knowing that your technical skills are good enough...and not getting any engagement, is very tough on a person. I nearly shut down the company.
In August 2016, it finally broke, and I got my first client (Sanic). After Sanic, I built 7 computers until February 2017. Those were Exodus, Smardin, Stormtrooper Rampage, Silver Fury, Carbon Crystal, Blue Carbon, and ThecraQ. About 1 build/month, which is pretty good for a new business owner who had never run a company before, in a hyper-competitive industry.
Good Thoughts for 2017
I was feeling pretty good about the build frequency, and was anticipating a pretty good year in 2017. I revised my quoting spreadsheet, upgraded my website (I've been using Squarespace since October 2016), learned more about posting on social media, revised my pricing, gained more confidence in my brand, and started networking professionally towards the end of 2016.
2016 had been a trying year, but had ended well. I had a firmer idea of my brand, of what the company needed to be, and how to approach things overall. I had certainly made mistakes, some quite costly, but I had a pretty good idea of things (or so I thought). 2017 was looking to be a pretty good year.
2017 started out on a high note. I built 4 computers by about the first week of February. I didn't have any new inquiries for builds or services for a few weeks, but I was anticipating getting some work in from people getting tax refunds and buying computers with them. Unfortunately, that didn't happen, and any "normal" work didn't come in either. That was moderately depressing, but I decided to push on, and keep doing what I was doing.
I ended up not getting any major build work till August 4th. That was pretty hard to take.
The Big Break and AMD Ryzen
Then NC State opened up again, and I got my 9th client (YemFlyer), who wanted a special ESports build. This system is capable of playing Overwatch at 1440p 144Hz, and get 144FPS on high/ultra settings. This made the client extremely happy, adding to the fact that the PC was very quiet even under this load. This system was also the first time we used an AMD Ryzen CPU, to wonderful effect.
The Rest of 2017
The rest of 2017 started slow, and heated up very quickly at the end. I built 2 entry-level gaming computers (BolognaBot and Tomahawk Strike), 1 fairly decent 1080p system (Strix Eclipse), and 1 high-end 1080p system (7 of Clubs). I also rebuilt a completely monstrous maxed-out 4K/VR fully-watercooled system (Industrial Strength Awesome).
Sometime in 2017 I realized that I need to put more emphasis on workstations, due to the increased profit margin/build. I’m still having difficulty getting workstation sales, but it’s a work in progress.
Advertising and Brand Awareness
2017 was also the year I realized I needed to not spend money on Facebook Ads. While I am able to create decent ads, and get pretty good engagement, they generally don’t convert to new builds. Custom computers aren’t the cheapest things on the market, and are certainly not something bought on a whim/impulse. I decided to focus more on networking, social media overall, and continuing to improve my SEO.
I also learned that Top Flight Computers does very well at trade shows, gaming conventions, cosplay events, and the like. Being able to see a custom-built computer in person, hear it (or not hear it..more likely), and see the cable management work, really makes the world of difference.
I was feeling extremely optimistic about 2018 towards the end of 2017/beginning of 2018, based on website traffic and overall engagement/brand image.
So far this year, we’ve had some high-end leads come in, and go. We built a computer that was 1.5 years in the making (Scarlet Wolf), built a computer for the UNC ESports Club (The RAM), and I’ve connected with some truly awesome people. I was thinking we would hit the ground running with computer builds, but we’ve had a few slow months. It took me a bit to realize that there are only so many things I can control. I have however, kept in touch with a significant amount of potential clients, and look forward to working with them when they are ready. We have some very nice builds pending approval in the next few months, and I can’t wait to get the show on the road!
Speaking of road, I decided to take the leap a few months ago, and purchase an exhibition booth at Raleigh Supercon. We attended last year, but did not have a booth. That was a mistake, which will be rectified this year. I am super stoked for Supercon, it should be a fantastic event!
With any luck, I’ll be able to finally rebuild my entire computer sometime this year, after spending money on the business itself for several years.
In these past 2.5 years, I’ve improved as a business owner, system designer, website designer, social media manager, SEO techie, and most importantly, as a friend. It really is all about the people that you meet. I could go on for hours about all the sound advice I’ve received over the past few years, from people that I will never forget. I thank you all for reading this, for helping me out, and for supporting me in my business endeavours.
A Little About Us
Top Flight Computers is a well-known leader in the Raleigh area that designs high-performance custom-built computers, specializing in workstations, gaming computers, water cooling, and network storage solutions.
Our primary goal is making sure you love your system, understand what you are buying, and enjoy the entire experience. Every customer's needs are different, and with so many potential options, there is no 'one size fits all' solution. We are available via email, phone, text, social media, and in person.
We personally deliver systems to clients within a certain distance of our shop. If you are inside 20 miles, the delivery comes at no additional cost.