Hello, my name is Vince Coyner and I'm the founder and president of Phase3G. The genesis for Phase3G was a trip I made in November of 2001. I had just finished a 4-day road trip from Atlanta to New York and back. During those 2,000 or so miles I had seen gasoline prices that ranged from $1.00 per gallon to above $1.50. Upon returning to Atlanta, where the price was around $1.00, my mind started to wonder about gas prices and how crazy they seemed. While $1.00 a gallon was good, it occurred to me that within the past year or so the price in Atlanta had ranged from $.84 per gallon to somewhere around $1.25. I thought to myself that it would have been great to have stocked up on a few hundred gallons when it was eighty-four cents. The wheels started turning...
Americans learned long ago that there are benefits to be had from buying in bulk or pre-paying for a product or service. One benefit is per unit cost: you might pay 6.2 cents per once if you buy a single can of Coke but pay only 2.1 cents per once if you buy a 2 liter bottle. Another benefit is the security of knowing you will have the product available. By pre-paying or contracting to buy home heating oil, you are assured that if a cold spell brings about shortages you will get your oil before others who decided not to pre-pay or sign a contract.
Gazing out through the entrepreneurial paradigm through which I view the world, I wondered why we couldn't buy gasoline in bulk. We all use it. Everyone who drives needs it. It's a commodity product and it comes in easily measured units we all understand. Having never sold a gallon of gasoline in my life and knowing virtually nothing about the gasoline industry, I decided to try and figure out why.
Eventually I concluded that indeed there is no reason every driver in America should not have the opportunity to purchase gasoline in bulk when they feel the prices are reasonable. Phase3G is the vehicle through which I would like to make that possible. In pursuit of making that opportunity a reality, I am seeking investors for Phase3G.
Phase3G and FixedPriceGasoline.com are the results of my work over the past few years. I have spent practically every waking moment trying to solve this conundrum. I've talked with people who own just a few gas stations and others who manage thousands. I've talked with WSJ reporters, magazine editors and industry analysts. I've spoken with banks, oil companies, government agencies and even a few venture capitalists. I've had conversations and meetings with leading industry experts and practically anyone who would pick up the phone or meet me. Throughout, the response I've received from almost every single person has been "Interesting idea. If you can demonstrate that it works we might be interested in talking with you further".
After looking at the industry from a million different angles, I understand that there are a myriad of influences on the price we pay for a gallon of gasoline. They range from the obvious, such as the price of oil, to the rather less noticeable, like federal, state and local taxes, to the incomprehensible, such as the esoteric and bewildering oil company pricing zones. Given the dynamics of the marketplace, a few things stand out however:
Taking into account the above and a great deal more data, Phase3G has developed a fixed price, card-based program (for which a patent is pending) that would allow consumers to walk into their local gas station or convenience store and purchase as many gallons of gasoline as they would like at the posted price. Rather than having to actually take those 50 or 100 gallons with them, they would have a card, which would allow them to redeem those gallons, regardless of what the posted price of gas was when they returned.
The Phase3G offering gives consumers the ability to purchase gasoline at a fixed price for use over a specific period of time. At the same time it protects retailer's rather narrow margins on gasoline and creates an opportunity to increase customer loyalty. This is particularly important given the fact that it costs 7 to 10 times more to recruit a new customer than to keep an existing one.
Bottom Line: Gasoline prices are twice as high today as they were when I started this endeavor. Today the national average for gasoline stands at a record $2.21 and Phase3G is still trying to get off of the ground. That is unfortunate because had things been in place from January 2002 to January 2005 the company would have done quite well. The real question is of course, not what might have happened, but rather what the future holds. With oil at $57 a barrel and just last week a number of analysts suggesting it might hit $100, the potential is great. Regardless of where gasoline goes from here, up to $3.50 or down to $.95, Phase3G seeks to create a viable business by giving consumers a choice.
Given the last four years of a languishing stock market and the rather precipitous drop in everything 'Net related into which so much venture capital previously flowed, Phase3G has had no luck in securing funding. A not uncommon refrain is "That is an interesting idea, but if it was such a good idea, someone would have done it already." (Befuddled, I'm never really sure how to respond to such statements, which always leave me wondering how anything ever gets started.) It was with that rather bleak picture in mind that I set out with the pledge "Will work for Seed Capital" a couple of years ago. I was seeking $100,000 to run a test to demonstrate the efficacy of the Phase3G model. The model would have either worked, at which time Phase3G would have required $1 million to begin operations, or it would have failed, in which case I was offering my professional services, (view resume) without charge for one month for each $10,000 an investor had invested. Certainly my expectation was that Phase3G was going to be successful and that each $10,000 invested would have grown like a tree rather than resulting in my toiling in someone's back office as the consolation prize. (In 2003 I made a trip to NY in search of capital. (Basically I walked around Wall Street & Times Square with a sandwich board that said "Will work for Seed Capital") If you'd like to see a couple of pictures of that trip click here.)
As gasoline continues to hit new highs my confidence in the potential for Phase3G only increases. Now if I could only get the investment with which to allow it to achieve that potential. If you are interested in investing in Phase3G, please contact me at (770) 363-0867. (or send an e-mail; firstname.lastname@example.org) Thank you for your time and consideration. It is indeed greatly appreciated.