Blog Posts by Jim Erickson

  • Memo to garage inventors who have spent years pitching their brilliant idea but can’t find a retailer willing to put their product on the shelves: pay attention to Eduardo (Eddie) De Arkos and Clark Whitehead, a couple of twenty-something college dropouts from Sonoma County, Calif.

    In 2012, the childhood friends decided to launch a watersports business making colorful pool-toyish inflatable tubes that lock together like jigsaw-puzzle pieces. Within weeks of filing for a utility patent for their unusual invention, which lets groups of friends easily hitch themselves together so they can float rivers and lakes en masse, the pair got a chance to pitch their idea to Big 5 Sporting Goods, one of America’s top sporting goods chains.

    Less than 15 minutes after detailing their product for a Big 5 buyer in Los Angeles, Whitehead and De Arkos were celebrating their first order: a 3,200 unit deal that validated their gamble to start their own company with $6,500 in life savings.

    Whitehead, 23, and

    Read More »from Art of the Pitch: The young entrepreneurs behind Fluzzle interlocking floaties on closing
  • At 20, a Student Entrepreneur Already Has a Million-dollar Business Idea

    Nicole Kelner is one of those people who can make you feel exhausted just by listening to them talk about their day. An energetic advertising major at Penn State University, Kelner, 20, is not only an honors student with a 4.0 GPA, she’s also the president of the Penn State Entrepreneurship Club, editor of the university’s largest co-ed service organization, and is the owner of her own start-up company, Nicole Kelner Designs, a maker of fashion accessories for mobile tech.

    Oh, and Kelner is the entire manufacturing staff for the SmartPurse,™ a wallet/handbag she designed that does double-duty as a waterproof cellphone carrier and was featured in the April edition of Vogue UK magazine. To launch her business, Kelner stitched together 400 SmartPurses in her dorm room in her spare time.

    It’s this indefatigable enthusiasm that helped Kelner win the EmpowerWomen mentorship contest sponsored by global e-commerce website Alibaba.com. Earlier this year, Alibaba.com organizers invited female

    Read More »from At 20, a Student Entrepreneur Already Has a Million-dollar Business Idea
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