973
9 min 32 sec

Raver Turns LED-Powered Gloves Into Bright Future

When a raver-turned-salesperson falls in love with an underground artform, he turns it into a successful side business.
Manufacturing Niche Ideas Product Unique Ideas

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What It's About

Raver capitalizes on an underground scene.

Business Model
Manufacturing
Skills Required
Design & Product Development
Complexity
Medium
Profit Potential
Medium

Words of Wisdom

Subcultures have their own terminology, practices, and means of recognition. And they attract people who want to belong to something. This is true for fans of indie music, anyone who enjoys a certain activity, sports fans—especially if you’re a fan of a less popular team, or perhaps a team in a different area than the one you live in.

A while back we had a story (Ep. 667) about a guy who was a Seattle Seahawks fan and moved to a part of the country where few other people were. He created an app that allowed displaced fans to find a bar or other venue that would show their games. So in other words, he found a way to capitalize on an opportunity no one else was paying attention to.

Fun Fact

It is generally agreed that gloving first emerged in the mid-2000's at raves parties as a form of drug enhancement. Many of these party-goers would be high on ecstasy, and they found that gazing at bright lights intensified the pleasure that they felt on the drug. The first lightshows were done using glowsticks or handheld lights to dance in rhythm to the music for onlookers.

Eventually, someone had the idea of taking gloves and putting a small LED light in each finger. Suddenly, this opened up an entirely new world of possibilities for moves, as having the freedom of using every finger individually created limitless potential for movements.

Notes from Chris

Episode 973
Twenty-seven-year-old sales executive Andrew Zhao fell in love at a rave. But it wasn’t with a person, it was with an artform called gloving. Gloving involved performers, called “glovers,” wearing gloves with LED microlights and using them to share their own light show.

The artform first emerged in the underground rave scene in the mid-2000’s when performers would use glow sticks to create art. Then someone had the idea of taking gloves and putting a small LED light in each finger, which opened up an entirely new world of possibilities for moves.

Andrew was entranced. He immediately spent much of his free time studying and practicing the artform. Online message boards were popular at the time, and he would spend hours on forums dedicated to the rave culture. However, rivalry and bullying on the message boards would soon push Andrew into his first side hustle. You see, the “glow stickers” outnumbered “glovers” at both the raves and also on the message boards, and the larger group was hostile to the smaller one.

Fed up with the negative vibes, Andrew started Throw Life, a new forum dedicated to “glovers.” The website grew quickly, attracting thousands from around the world who created an online community that was active 24 hours a day. But like many love stories, Andrew’s relationship with gloving would not be without its difficulties. The quick success of his new forum and the responsibility of managing it became too much for the then 19-year old and he decided to shut it down.

While this project didn’t work out, Andrew was excelling professionally. Now working in enterprise sales for a large, multinational telecom company, he was soon earning $80,000/year selling fiber optics.

But his love of gloving was never far from his mind. Andrew continued to spend most weekends at large raves. He also still believed that the niche artform would one day be a billion-dollar industry like street art or skateboarding. Andrew didn’t know what he could do, or how he could do it, but he wanted to be part of the industry’s future.

That’s when he decided to relaunch as an e-commerce brand. This time, Andrew started small … really small. His first product was the tiny batteries that power the colorful gloves.

He went on Alibaba and found a supplier. Soon he had thousands of batteries on the way to his door. While waiting for the delivery, he set up a simple Shopify store. The new venture, now called Throwlights, cost less than $1,000 to get off the ground.

He consistently worked to expand his product line, which is sold exclusively on his website, and he soon began offering gloves, bulbs, t-shirts and other accessories that became popular in the gloving community.

Since then, Andrew has raised $150,000 for his venture, and he recently left his sales job to focus on it full time. But of course, it all started with a side hustle that enabled him to turn his dreams into reality.

He says that the best part of the experience has been the phenomenal relationships he’s made with people along the way, plus the opportunity to be around an artform that he loves. Through all of the ups and downs, he credits his success to his mindset. Before what he learned through experience, Andrew didn’t have the skills or the habits he needed. He became much more conscientious about building a strong community to surround himself with and he became more intentional about what information he consumed.

 
  MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

  • Throwlights: Learn more about this rave-worthy side hustle over on Andrew's website!
  • Shopify: Andrew used Shopify to set up his site for Throwlights, and they're offering a 21-day trial and exclusive discount for all Side Hustle School listeners!
  • Alibaba: The marketplace Andrew used to find a manufacturer for Throwlights
  • Game on! Seahawks Fan Kicks Off Six-Figure Sports App: When faced with the possibility of not being able to enjoy his favorite football games, this sports fan creates an app to solve the problem. Four years in, it earns him a full-time income in exchange for 30 minutes of work each week
  SEE ALSO:

Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,

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Resources

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Quote of the Day
"Start somewhere. It's a cliche, but the journey of 1,000 miles begins with one step. That's true—don't be afraid! Along the way, you WILL mess up and that's okay. You might also wildly succeed, so just go for it."
—Andrew Zhao #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau