What happens when you make a product for a tiny niche — and then everyone wants it?

A startup that made a niche product to prevent people from pulling their hair rebranded to offer a product suited for a pandemic.

Photo via Slightly Robot

What happens when you make a product for a tiny niche — and then everyone wants it?

We’re about to find out, thanks to a startup called Slightly Robot.

The startup’s sole product — until last week — was a hand-tracking bracelet designed specifically to help people struggling with trichotillomania (compulsive hair-pulling), dermatillomania (compulsive skin-picking), and onychophagia (compulsive nail-biting).

The bracelet, which works by buzzing when its wearer moves their hand somewhere it shouldn’t go, is typically sold to a specific medical audience.

Then everyone said stop touching your face

Health agencies worldwide say keeping your hands away from your mug can help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

But it’s kinda hard to avoid face-touching… so Slightly Robot’s product was suddenly relevant in a new context.

Time for a REBRAND

The company relaunched its existing bracelets under a new name (“Immutouch”) and began selling them on a separate site featuring warnings from the World Health Organization, the CDC, and Harvard Medical School.

Slightly Robot’s founders told TechCrunch they’re “not looking to make money” here — and indeed they cut the bracelets’ price to sell them near cost (Slightly Robot’s original bracelets are $114; Immutouch bracelets — which work the exact same way — are $49.99).

The rapid response offers a case study in how startups can reinvent themselves by quickly adjusting to changing market conditions and trying to solve new problems as they arise.

As of yesterday, Immutouch bracelets were on backorder “due to an overwhelming response.”

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