999
10 min 56 sec

Wildlife Biologist Shoots, Scores With Pond Hockey Gloves

While this enterprising Alaskan was working on his outdoor blanket hustle, he came across a different opportunity he couldn’t pass up: being the ONLY brand that specializes in pond hockey.
Niche Ideas Power of Observation Product Sports

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What It's About

A biologist makes an unbelievable discovery: no one was serving the needs of pond hockey players ... and those players needed gloves!

Business Model
Product
Skills Required
Observation
Complexity
Low
Profit Potential
Medium

Words of Wisdom

Christopher suggests the following advice for those trying to grow their business, "figure out what is busy work and figure out what will actually further your business. What tasks can you do that are an investment for the future of your business?."

Fun Fact

Hockey gloves are actually designed to keep your hands cool so that they don’t get sweaty while you’re playing. Pond hockey players, however, are in the freezing cold—they definitely need warm gloves!

Notes from Chris

Episode 999
Christopher DeVore loves his work as a wildlife biologist—but he’s also always had a bit of an entrepreneurial spirit. For a project in college, he planned and executed a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised $20,000—eight thousand more than he needed—to launch an outdoor blanket called Father Nature Outdoors.

Not long after, however, Chris learned how hard it can be to maintain the hype of a new business. Father Nature Outdoors was still getting sales, but revenue was dropping quickly. He didn’t have time to dedicate to marketing, and the brand wasn’t really differentiated enough to generate interest on its own—it was just one among many outdoor blanket companies.

As he thought about winding it down, he came across a vendor who made all kinds of outdoor gear—not just blankets. And this made him wonder about an idea he’d had as a kid.

Growing up in Alaska, outdoor pond hockey was a frequent winter pastime—and this was a hobby not made for the weak. Hockey gloves are made for indoor hockey, where the goal is to keep players’ hands cool so they don’t sweat. But when you’re outdoors and you’re in the negative temperatures, you don’t need to stay cool—you need to stay warm! Even years later, Chris remembered how much his hands would sting from the cold while playing outdoors.

He did a quick Google search and found something that surprised him: nobody had really solved this issue. All the hockey gloves for sale were meant for indoor hockey, which meant pond hockey players everywhere were still dealing with freezing cold hands.

The go-for-it excitement caught hold of him, so he reached out to that vendor who sold outdoor gear, worked on a simple way to make hockey gloves warmer, and ordered a sample with fur lining the inside. The sample cost $100, but when Chris got it in the mail, he knew it had been worth it. The glove was fantastic.

By the following March, when pond hockey season came to a close, Third Assist was already profitable, having sold over 50% of the gloves. Chris knew he was onto something. Now he’s at a crossroads. He can continue the trend of slow, mindful growth—which generates as much as $3,000 per month in extra income during high season—or he can try to supercharge growth by getting a small business loan and scaling faster with more products, more ads, and more partnerships. There’s even the possibility of being a sponsor for EA Sports’s pond hockey game—but that’s definitely not cheap.

He’s going to take the next season to decide which direction to take. Either way, he loves that he’s been able to reconnect to one of his favorite communities in a meaningful way—and that his is the only brand out there serving the community with useful products.

 
  MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

  • Third Assist: Looking to warm your hands for the next pond hockey match? Head over to Christoper's website.
  • Weebly: The platform that Richard used to create his website for Third Assist!

  SEE ALSO:

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

Yours in the revolution,

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Quote of the Day
"What can I do today that in a year I will say ‘thank God I did that’? I’m always talking to customers and writing emails — but I realize it’s the bigger picture things that’ll help me in the future. What tasks have the biggest long-term impact and reward? Do those first."
—Christopher DeVore #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau