Unusual Investments

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I Hate Grass

I hate grassI hate grass.

It bothers my allergies. It makes my skin itch. If you have a large lot with a lot of grass, you have to spend a fortune watering it. It has to be cut every week. It has to be overseeded. It costs a lot of money to maintain. Sometimes patches of it die. While it looks great the day it is mowed, it starts to look uneven within 2 or 3 days. It tends to attract ants and bugs.

On the other hand, I absolutely love artificial turf.

From the first time I stepped on an artificial turf field when I was attending a football camp in elementary school, I have loved artificial turf. It looks great always, you don’t have to water it, and while it costs more than sod to install, it isn’t expensive to maintain. Even if you have a lot of allergies, you can probably lie in the stuff and it won’t bother your skin.

The biggest problem (by far) is that it gets really hot. While it’s probably fine in the shade, artificial turf in direct sunlight in 100 degree summer temperatures is too hot to stand barefoot on.

Also, there are some other smaller problems that could continue to be improved over time like a more realistic look and feel, the smell, drainage if pets urinate on it, and the cost.

Even with the heat issue, you are seeing more and more people move away from grass to either xeriscaping or artificial turf. If someone could create a technology that solves the heat problem, you are talking about billions and billions of dollars of incremental sales being generated.

It’s an inexact number, but there is the old rule of thumb that private golf courses spend $100,000 per hole per year in maintenance. What if the entire fairway and greens were artificial turf? If you knew the dog or your kids could always walk on your artificial turf without burning their feet, the biggest deterrent to installing artificial turf would go away.

OK but why should someone care that I hate grass?

A lot of people love natural grass, maybe most people do. However, there is still a large number of people that don’t like grass at all because of allergies, water bills, or other reasons.

If you are thinking about starting a novel business concept, finding something that a lot of people hate is a good starting point.

I hate taxis. My experience in taxis is that the drivers are rude, the cars are disgusting, the riding experience is unsafe and undesirable, the dispatch experience is a complete crapshoot, the pricing is unclear, how much you have to tip is a mystery, and it basically requires having cash bills on hand.

However, I love Uber and Lyft.

A lot of men and women can’t stand cramming their family of four into a single hotel room with 2 queen size beds for their once a year “vacation.”

Other people can’t stand paying resort fees.

It’s not surprising that AirBnB and VRBO have become so popular.

Many people have strong negative opinions about Realtors and the commissions they charge as well as the massive stress-inducing sales process.  Thus you have seen the rise of MLS entry only companies and iBuyers.

A lot of fintech companies like Chime, SoFi, and Credit Karma have been built around things people hate about traditional banks and financial services companies.

I have been told that Lululemon’s tremendous success can be traced to the fact that before Lululemon, women hated how their butts looked in workout pants.

If you are thinking about starting your own business but don’t know what, you might want to start your research by finding something that people hate.

Not everyone has to hate it; you can find something that some people like or aren’t passionate about one way or the other. But you need to find a big enough subset of people that for whatever reason can’t seem to stand it.

Getting someone to switch from a competitor to your business is a lot easier when they despise the company they are with.

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