At first glance the T-shirt company, Threadless Tees, and the dating service, RachelChris, seem to have nothing in common. From our vantage point, however, one key component of these two companies sets them apart from their competition and can be applied to your business.
Both Threadless Tees and RachelCrhis are in oversaturated markets, yet bring something unique and tailored to niche clientele and the rest of the market writ large.
Threadless Tees is hawking one of the most pedestrian of wares. Yet they are successful because Threadless brings unique participatory approach to producing their tees as well as a built-in customer base. Threadless Tees allows anyone to submit designs for artistic and clever T-shirts (as well as sweatshirts, messenger bags, totes, laptop cases). They carefully select designs that are then screen printed onto a high-quality cotton T-shirt and sold on a common online marketplace for an easy $20, with the designer getting an upfront profit (and Threadless gift-card) as well as $500 every time their design is reprinted. This business plan allows for an unlimited number of “employees” with ideas and designs to potentially draw from, for free. Threadless isn’t paying designers until the design is chosen—yet hundreds of designs come in each week from budding artists. Threadless has also adopted a scoring system where anyone can score designs waiting to be approved for print, which helps Threadless employees judge if a shirt will sell and builds social media groundswell for products. This business plan is not only smart, but unique and well thought out for the T-shirt market, which helps make this business successful. For one other site that offers a design slick marketplace for the masses (graphic design), visit 99designs.com
RachelChris is a mix between a dating and matchmaking service making its debut, and seems to have the most attractive (and rare) business plan at the ball. RachelChris is an exclusive dating site, with only 730 singles, between the ages of 25 and 38, in the New York City area. RachelChris’s founder, Sofya Vasilyeva, chose this number so that 1) her members don’t have to sort through countless profiles and 2) so one male and female each can be featured every day of the year on the website. For an extra fee RachelChris offers additional services tailored to her members. For example, Vasilyeva facilitates special events for smaller hand-selected groups of singles she believes could hit it off, as well as offering a personal stylist for members before they get their professional photographs taken. Because each member is personally interviewed by Vasilyeva, members can be assured that their cohorts are who they say they are as well as “the type of people that other people would really want to date.” Vasilyeva has taken a lot of the footwork out of finding the perfect match for her members and offers a completely unique and tailored experience for NYC singles that is a far cry from Match.com and EHarmony.com or the Bravo’s “Millionaire Matchmaker.”
These two companies have brought well thought out niche concepts and a unique business plan personalized to oversaturated markets to stand out from the crowd and appeal to the ever growing Urban, Young Professional crowds. Bravo.