Peng Hai smiled and shook his head.
"Of course, I won't give my all to the project. This is meant to be a trial. After all, I only managed one department before when I was in the Crimson Nimbus Guild. I don't have any experience in creating or operating a big sect.
"I've been thinking lately that I should invest in a project first. I'll be more experienced in business affairs whether it succeeds or fails.
"You've come at the right time. Although I haven't read the feasibility analysis report of the project, I know that the Demon Beast Detector must be very promising, seeing that the Zephyr Guild has been so anxious and is moving so many resources against it.
"The cooperation is good for me, for you, and for the Mountain Sea Sect. I'm more than happy to join it."
Li Yao was moved.
Although Peng Hai talked that way, he knew that the main reason why Peng Hai was doing this was to help him.
While Peng Hai was talking, Peng Hai turned on the spiritual crane messenger and typed in a message.
"Junior Brother Li, you know that, previously, I was mainly in charge of finding safe routes for business, which required more muscles than brain. I don't know much about magical equipment promotion, either. Wait a moment. I'll introduce an expert to you."
Within a moment, a solemn, professional woman who was in her thirties appeared quietly in the training room through the teleportation array over the roof.
She was surrounded by more than ten light beams where countless data streams were pouring down.
The information was being absorbed at an amazing speed.
Li Yao felt that the beautiful woman looked familiar. He thought he had met her somewhere, and probably more than once.
Peng Hai said, "Li Yao, come and meet Shang Tianling. You can call her Sister Shang."
Then it occurred to Li Yao that he had seen Shang Tianling multiple times both on the Nexus and in the news report.
She was a genius admin-type Cultivator, and she had been in important positions in several major cultivation sects after she graduated from college.
Three years ago, she was appointed as the operations director of the Bright Valiant Tower, a cultivation sect. Through audacious and radical reforms, the rank of the comprehensive capability of the Bright Valiant Tower rose up by more than a hundred and made it into the top five hundred sects of the federation.
Senior Brother Peng was not wrong. She was truly an expert.
But wasn't she the operations director of the Bright Valiant Tower? How did she end up here?
Shang Tianling glanced at Li Yao and smiled.
"Peng Hai, I made the right choice to come here. Board members of the Bright Valiant Tower are too unambitious. They're so satisfied at the current status of the Bright Valiant Tower that they're frightened to make any change. Every operation proposal that entails the slightest risk has been disapproved by them.
"You are good. Not even owning a sect yet, you are already trying to declare war against the Zephyr Guild. Interesting!"
She nodded at Li Yao. "I am Shang Tianling, personal assets and brand consultant for Peng Hai. I'm in charge of operating Peng Hai's assets, and also marketing the brand of 'Fiend Blade Peng Hai' in the cultivation world."
Knowing that he was talking to someone who used to be the operations director of a top five hundred sect, Li Yao didn't dare to underestimate her. He said with utmost respect, "Sister Shang, nice to meet you. I am Li Yao, Peng Hai's junior brother."
Shang Tianling smiled.
"Vulture Li Yao. Your name has been quite popular recently. Many people believe that your achievements will be as good as Peng Hai's in the future. I think so, too.
"So, do you have a personal assets and brand consultant yet? If not, consider me. I can handle both of your affairs simultaneously."
Li Yao didn't understand.
"What exactly is a personal assets and brand consultant?"
Shang Tianling answered, "It's simple. Most of the non-admin-type Cultivators are not good at making money; they have to try and earn their money by instinct.
"Battle-type Cultivators often go hunting demon beasts on the Grand Desolate Plateau; creation-type Cultivators such as you will refine magical equipment and sell it.
"But money-making is a tedious task.
"For example, if you have refined a piece of magical equipment and decide to sell it by yourself, it will take you quite a lot of time, not to mention the risk that you might not be able to find the most suitable buyer and sell it at the highest price.
"Let's say you've sold your magical equipment at the highest price. How will you make the best use of your income? By depositing it into a bank and enjoying the interest?
"This is the time when admin-type Cultivators such as me get useful.
"As a personal assets and brand consultant, I can help you draft thorough promotion and marketing plans for your magical equipment. After you've made money, I can help you find the most suitable investments. When other sects want to cooperate with you, I'll be responsible for investigating the backgrounds and true purposes of those sects and choosing the best partner for you.
"In short, my job is to help my clients arrange their assets in their best interests so that they can devote themselves to cultivation without being distracted.
"As for brand, it's easier to understand.
"A man's name is like a tree's shadow. Every Cultivator has their own brand. Fiend Blade Peng Hai is a brand; Vulture Li Yao is a brand; Fiend Star Li Yao is yet another brand.
"If your brand is operated well, it will leave a positive impression on the public, which will bring you great benefits. Apart from everything else, if you can pick up a few commercials every year, the money you gain will be enough to buy loads of Heavenly Materials and Earthly Treasures.
"But if your brand is badly operated, you risk being considered to be an unsocial and eccentric freak despite your capabilities, which would be a shame.
"For example, your nickname is 'Vulture', and you were born in a magical equipment graveyard. If somebody fans the flames in secret, you'll be easily depicted into a brutal, bloodthirsty fanatic.
"Once your image is fixed, it will be troublesome to reshape it. How are you going to play around in the cultivation world if everyone regards you as a supervillain?
"But if I were to operate the brand 'Vulture Li Yao', I would highlight your struggle, determination, and persistency and build you into an anti-hero that lives in darkness, which is a quite popular image among juveniles."
Li Yao finally got everything straight.
He had used to be a cash-strapped, low-level Cultivator and there was no need to worry about his assets and brand.
But as his strength increased, the everyday stuff was starting to trouble him. Since he had entered a higher level of the world, it seemed that he could really use a personal consultant.
Peng Hai smiled.
"Tianling, it's rare for you to be so interested in my junior brother. However, let's focus on the Demon Beast Detector for now. You must've read the files already on your way here. How about it? Do you think it's worth investing?"
Shang Tianling nodded her head. "And I think your proposal is very good. Create a new sect funded by both of you and let the new sect invest in the Mountain Sea Sect.
"It doesn't matter whether or not the new sect can make money. It's more about building up the brands of 'Fiend Blade Peng Hai' and 'Vulture Li Yao'.
"Peng Hai, although you are very likely going to be the youngest Core Formation Cultivator of the federation, it is only indicative of your combat ability. The cultivation world is still not confident about your ability to manage a big sect yet.
"Li Yao is the same. You have made remarkable accomplishments in the Refiners' Registration Examination. But whether or not the very first piece of magical equipment refined by you can be commercially successful is still not certain; the outcome of this will have a huge impact on your future development.
"As long as the Zephyr Guild is beaten, both of the two brands will be established."
Li Yao frowned.
"But, the Zephyr Guild is very influential in the trade of magical equipment refining and selling. Many suppliers and dealers of the Mountain Sea Sect have been under the pressure from it. What can we do?"
Shang Tianling smiled.
"It is true that the Zephyr Guild has a huge influence on the magical equipment providers and sellers. However, if you are to look at it in the big picture, you'll notice that you two have as many resources as the Zephyr Guild does. Especially you, Vulture Li Yao."
Li Yao pointed at himself in confusion. He was just a college student. What resources did he have?
Shang Tianling said, "You alone are of little significance.
"But behind you is a giant named the Grand Desolate War Institution.
"You were the first student to earn more than 40,000 credits within one year in the Grand Desolate War Institution. Right now, you are a celebrity of the institution.
"Also, I'm told that the Grand Desolate War Institution has allotted a lot of its budget to the Refining Department, planning to make the Refining Department the fifth 'distinguished major' of the institution.
"Besides, many combat sects on the Grand Desolate Plateau have been sponsoring the Refining Department, too.
"You happen to be the Senior Brother of the Refining Department, as well as the president of the Star Fire Union, don't you?"
Li Yao nodded his head. His eyes were glittering, as he was beginning to understand where this conversation was going.
Shang Tianling continued, "I assume that you're probably in a good relationship with the leaders of the Grand Desolate War Institution, which has been raising you as a future star. They would definitely consider a few requests from you should you ask anything of them.
"So, if you can't promote the Demon Beast Detector in the market, why don't you promote it within the Grand Desolate War Institution first?
"You don't need to worry about the payoff of your promotion. Even if you are selling it below cost, as long as the staff and students of the Grand Desolate War Institution are willing to use it, our purpose will be fulfilled."
Li Yao felt like a bolt of lightning had struck his head, illuminating everything.
The key to the problem was himself.
The Grand Desolate War Institution had the best Combat Department of the federation. The staff and students that went to fight on the Grand Desolate Plateau outnumbered those of any other university.
Besides, many combat sects, as well as the military, had been sending candidates to study in the Grand Desolate War Institution or for co-op missions.
If the staff and students of the Grand Desolate War Institution were to equip the Demon Beast Detector on a large scale, wouldn't it be the best advertisement?
If soldiers and the students of the combat sects who studied in the Grand Desolate War Institution brought the Demon Beast Detectors back to the military or their cultivation sects, the Demon Beast Detector would surely spread like a virus unstoppably.
There wouldn't be too much difficulty promoting it in the campus, either.
Now that the Grand Desolate War Institution was supporting the Refining Department, the Demon Beast Detector, as a piece of magical equipment refined by a student of the Refining Department, would bring a lot of honor to the school if it turned out to be successful on the market.
What's more, during the one-versus-two-thousand competition of the Thunderbolt Cup, he had been wearing the Demon Beast Detector, which had caught much attention already.
Ding Lingdang, Zhao Tiange, Lu Tianshan They were all his friends. He wouldn't meet too much trouble either among the teachers or among the students.
With an acceptable price, it was even possible that the Demon Beast Detector would become the designated magical equipment for the students of the Grand Desolate War Institution. It would be purchased in bulk by the school, and when the students went to the wilderness, each of them would be asked to wear one.
In that case, promotion wouldn't be a problem at all.
Seeing his 'ah ha!' face, Shang Tianling smiled and continued, "I'm also told that you returned from the Thunderous Sound Mountain safe and sound after staying ten days and ten nights inside. It's definitely worth hyping, too."