Since the introduction of the iPod and iPhone, millions of people worldwide have found themselves owning an Apple product of some sort (seriously – Apple sold 75 million iOS devices in the 1st fiscal quarter of 2013 alone). While most people are just looking for a device to serve a purpose or simplify their life, a fraction of those millions fall into the category some would call “Fanboys/Fangirls.” These are the Apple fanatics that own a pile of Apple products, follow all the Apple blogs, and make a trip to the Apple store on a regular basis, just for fun.
Rob Shoesmith is one of these Apple zealots – and he’s on a mission to prove that he deserves the top spot as a die-hard Apple fan. In 2013, Rob is planning to take an adventure across the UK, hitting all 33 Apple retail stores. The catch? He’s going to do it without spending a dime (or pence) of his own money.
In 2011, Rob did an amazing feat of camping out at a London Apple store for 10 days, leading up to the iPhone 4S launch. Using his blog, his twitter, and his love of Apple, he managed to spend 10 days (and nights) with a green “Bog in a Bag” chair (read about that in his free iBook “Bin There, Done That”), camped outside of London’s Convent Garden Apple store. Living off of donated food, staying warm with blankets from sponsors, and keeping entertained with talent from around the UK, he managed to push himself and meet a ton of great people along the way.
Before the 2011 adventure, Rob was at a low point in his life. In 2008, he found himself at near rock-bottom.
I was suffering with chronic anxiety and depression, I just wanted to curl up in a ball and go to sleep. There was no colour in my life. It was just greyness!
I had zero confidence! Nothing in my life excited me! I was an educated guy and the only job I could handle doing was being a Bin Man [garbage man]. It meant I didn’t have to talk to people and pretty much all of my day was spent staring at dustbins and the back of a truck!
Believe me when I say life was a living hell!
Then, in 2009, Rob discovered an app in the App Store – The App Incubator – which allows users to pitch app ideas for a chance to have them developed. He pitched an idea for an app called “Problem Halved,” which allowed users to source others for help, and the developers chose to make his app. It was a huge turning point in Rob’s life.
Instead of letting his depression and anxiety hold him back, he persevered, and his 2011 iPhone campout experiment was the culmination of his self-therapy. He forced himself out of his comfort zone and was able to meet and connect with many “good-natured” people.
The Apple Store Experiment
His new adventure is a huge step even further into his love of Apple, and a testament to his extreme self-motivation. The challenge of going 10 days, living on the sponsorships of over 150 companies totaling over £30,000 was a huge feat for Rob (as it would be for anyone!), and his mission to visit every Apple store in the UK is exponentially larger.
Using crowd-funding website indiegogo.com, Rob is attempting to raise £7,000 up front to start his adventure, which will cover any necessary travel or accommodation expenses he may incur while he ventures from city to city. Along the way, Rob is also hoping to use donated “swag” to barter when possible.
In the olden days a farmer would swap a couple of chickens with a baker for a few loafs of bread. In other words they bartered with one another. During my experiment I’m looking for a whole host of companies to donate chickens (products to exchange, help with transportation to the different stores, food and accommodation). In other words these products can be used as gifts for me to thank people for lending a hand.
Traveling from city to city and store to store won’t be an easy task for Rob either. While he is working on a deal to get a fold-up electric bike donated for emergency situations, Rob truly hopes for transportation to be one of the most unique elements of his adventure.
…perhaps I can take a ride in a helicopter, a speedboat ride, a tank, or even a camel ride as a form of transport to get me to one of the stores.
Shoesmith has already made arrangements with some of his supporters and twitter followers, including an 85-year-old who has offered to open her home to him for a night during his “roadtrip” (as he calls it).
…she will cook me a roast dinner and pack me some sandwiches for the next day of the adventure,” Rob says of the elderly woman. ” The people I meet on the way will fascinate me! I mean seriously, how often do you get invited into a pensioners home for some dinner?
While Rob is on his journey, he will be reaching out to his supporters on Twitter(@shoesmith81), Youtube, and through his blog for suggestions on what to do next. Knowing there are many fun and exciting places he could stay or visit on his travels, he plans to let others help steer his decisions and make suggestions along the way.
The biggest challenge Rob is facing currently is getting the initial support to embark on his adventure. While he’s allotted himself a year to complete the challenge, he would like to keep achieve his goal in a single, month-long roadtrip – splitting it up, he says, “would be cheating, and a lot easier to complete.”
After he completes his UK “Apple Store Experiment,” he’d like to venture to the US, and arrange a visit to Apple’s Cupertino campus, as well as possibly attempt his experiment in a much larger (by area, at least) country.
In 2014, if successful in his Apple Store Experiment, Rob has another project in the works, which he is keeping quiet about. While this may be a US variant of the same experiment, his only clues were that “I would need $100,000’s worth of funding” and “the experiment will involve copious amounts of water.”
Rob’s mission is in need of your support (Only 4% funded as of writing this), and he is asking for 7,000 Apple lovers around the world to donate just £1.00 – although he does have various offerings for larger dollar supporters, through his indiegogo campaign. Shoesmith is thrilled about the opportunity to embark on the mission, and plans to write another book discussing his travels and experiences.
“Think of the experiment as being an epic road trip where I can tick off many things I want to do in my life. Essentially it’s a bucket list of things I would like to do before my time is up!” Shoesmith admitted, “My attitude is that you only live once and you should live it to the maximum, so you might as well embrace life and try and cram in as many fun things as possible.”
If you are interested in supporting Rob Shoesmith or finding out more about his Apple Visit Experiment, check out his blog and his indiegogo project, and keep up-to-date with his progress and follow his adventure on his Twitter and Youtube.