At least 18 people felt bad today. I counted.
I waited for the bus to pick me up and transport me back to work. I noticed a single glove in the middle of the sidewalk where people get on and off the transit. It appeared not stepped on, stirring me to assume it was recently dropped. Perhaps from someone who loaded on the bus moments before I arrived at the station. Not sure what to do with it, I watched it and noticed something peculiar.
Every person who walked past the glove looked at it, stared at it just long enough to think something like “well, that sucks for someone. I wonder if they figured out they lost it yet.”
Similarly, no one knew what to do with it. They just left it there.
It surprised me to find that Jennifer Gooch tried finding a solution to this problem with onecoldhand.com. The hyperlink goes to a shout out at Carnegie Mellon University (where she attended) and not the actual website because the website no longer exists. (You can see what the website looked like by using the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.)
To keep this post short, I’ll keep my argument short.
Jennifer Gooch had the business plan backward.
Today, one person lost one glove. I then watched 18 people empathize until the 19th person actually stepped on the glove, picked it up and handed it to the bus driver. The bus driver shrugged his shoulders and tossed it on the council, certainly to stay there until he decides whether it’s better off being tossed or brought to the transit’s lost and found office. (More likely the former.)
In Pittsburgh, Gooch focused on finding the owner of the one glove, only sometimes relieving it’s owner of the minimal stress of having lost it. Both her and my own’s take is to satisfy one person is, well, satisfying. However, not remarkable.
To satisfy 18+ people in one swoop is remarkable. Instead of creating OneColdHand to meet a demand that isn’t much of a demand (most don’t think, how can I find my glove. They think, when can I go buy a new pair), Gooch could have created OneColdHandTwoWarmOnes – pairing one lost left-handed glove with one lost right-handed glove, then giving them to someone without any.
A reason so many businesses flop when trying to find a niche market is that they go after the wrong long tail. Yes, there are people who use spinoff OneColdHand websites, but there is no profitability in something that is (rarely) at most, satisfying.
Consider when you’re trying to define who you want your audience to be, that although there are people wanting to reunite with their lost glove, there are far more people who have none. The question every entrepreneur or freelancer needs to ask is “who cares more?”
Ask that question enough and you’ll have your target audience. (A profitable one.)
Stay Positive & If Mixmatching Socks Is A Thing, Why Not Gloves?
Garth E. Beyer