Creating Demand

This great article was passed to me by a colleague.  It contains an important message for all entrepreneurs and business owners.  Enjoy! 


Last week I did something I hadn’t tried since college.

Now while that may sound like a particularly dangerous statement, it only proves that you don’t know what I did either last week or in college. What I did was nothing illegal, immoral or questionable in most ways.

I took an inter-city bus for the first time since Jimmy Carter was in the White House. Obviously, it’s been a long time.

It wasn’t the traditional Greyhound or Trailways. Rather it was something called Vamoose, one of a number of bus services running passengers between Washington, DC, and New York. Again that might not sound like much to you, except there is probably no better-serviced route in the US than New York to DC. There are countless airline flights, trains on Amtrak and, of course, major highways. In short, there wasn’t a real crying need for a new link between the two cities.

Yet, Vamoose is making it work so well it has loads of competitors.

The basics of these new bus routes are simple. Passengers board in various places in the DC area (DC, Maryland or Virginia) and for $25 ride to the heart of Manhattan or vice versa. The buses offer amenities including a free trip every fifth ride or WIFi access throughout the trip.

I had heard from friends about the buses, but could never talk myself into using the service. Until I tried it and realized I waited too long.

The trip was a very pleasant surprise. The bus was relatively clean, the ride comfortable and the company of fellow passengers was totally acceptable. (Okay, the woman painting her nails and the guy working on his fantasy baseball team were over the top, but I can deal.) On the positive side, it was easy, convenient, relatively cheap and allowed me to work, read and take a nap. That’s a pretty full day.

The crowd of passengers who rode with me round trip are big fans of the service. Many said they use it regularly to visit New York for shows, family and more. Despite the options, they see the value.

And there’s the puzzle. No one started Vamoose because there was a lack of options or competition. No one asked for such a service. It started because some small entrepreneur detected a need and divined a new way to fulfill it. Many of the bus services between the cities began with service from one poor neighborhood of DC to a corresponding neighborhood in New York. That alone was an excellent idea. It took a leap to bring it to affluent neighborhoods where the options were so plentiful.

Such leaps are nothing new provided an entrepreneur sees opportunity where none exists. Ted Zittell of McMillan/Doolittle closes his excellent speeches with a quote from Henry Ford about the birth of the automotive industry. As Ford said,

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