Being unemployed and looking for revenue opportunities, I find potential ones in the weirdest places like standing in the rain waiting to meet someone in Hoboken, Jersey. It was by the PATH station, a commuter subway that goes to New York City. It was 5 P.M. and I was by a bike rack with fifty bikes locked up. Forty-nine bike seats were soaking wet, and one seat was bone dry as it had a plastic bag wrapped around it.
I pointed that fact out to an individual standing by me, whose name I later found out was Mike, and asked him why did he think only one biker protected his or her seat. His answer was, “It wasn’t raining this morning.” I asked a rider who was unlocking his bike and he gave me the same answer. By the way, the prediction was for rain in the afternoon.
I conferred further with Mike and asked him what he thought about the viability of selling plastic rain protectors for seats that could be stored under bicycle seats. They could be different colors and have logos from different teams, fashion houses, or retailers. Told Mike, I didn’t have a name for the product, and he suggested, ‘Bike Condom.”
Saw a brilliant partnership being formed with a 60/40 split of the profits. Just would have to draft a partnership agreement, write a business plan, check out the competition, hire a lawyer, find investors and financing, work out a deal with a manufacturer and a distributor, create a marketing and advertising campaign, develop packaging, and market test the product.
A quick Internet search found that the term “bike condom” was already taken as at http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/01/bike-condoms-new-for-bike-sharing.php, there is the following statement: “In bike-sharing mecca Barcelona, there's a new way to make waste - put a pair of bike condoms onto the handles of the shared bike you are just about to take for a spin.” And at http://www.instructables.com/id/Bicycle_Seat_Condom, a rider tells us of a method to protect a seat from the rain, “During the Fall semester I started riding my bike to school and learned I hated riding in the rain after a seven hour class. I dreaded the idea of riding in the rain with a wet bike seat causing me to stand while pedaling. Luckily, being surrounded by Low density polyethylene (LDPE) cutoffs in the studio I began experimenting with vacuum forming this material to create a reusable bicycle seat cover that is durable, flexible, and waterproof.” My favorite bike seat cover was selling for $15 and made of durable urethane-coated ripstop nylon at http://www.rei.com/product/623806.
Looks like too much work and risk for Mike and me if we develop our own commercial “Bike Condom,” so let me offer an alternative business model in which we can immediately go to market today at no cost. We simply advise bike riders to stuff a plastic bag under the seat on their bicycle. So if there is a prediction or possibility of rain, they can wrap the plastic bag around the seat. If the rider must make a statement, he or she can use a plastic bag with a logo they like. And for those who decide to do so there is a charge, simply consider making a donation in any amount that you decide to charity or an individual that needs it more than you. With this second business model, Mike and I will still follow the same 60/40 split, but rather than sharing the profits, we hope to profit in a different way.
The above is from the third issue of my newsletter, Howard’s Inner Circle, which periodically appears on my blog, “Instigator” at http://howardwolosky.blogspot.com/. It may be reproduced in full if that fact is stated and Howard Wolosky is given credit as the author.