It's a lollipop . . . it's a hologram . . . it's both. "I was studying the combination of art and science and had this strange idea to see what would happen if I combined holography with food processing," explains MIT alumnus Eric Begleiter, 30. Joined by friends Paul Graham, 28, and Michael Wodke, 38, who'd recently left their jobs at M&M Mars, he launched LightVision Confections. The company's holographic lollipops feature a variety of laser-etched images, including a line based on the TV show "Star Trek: The Next Generation."
Thanks to trade shows, the trio has garnered the attention of distributors by marketing their confections as corporate promotions. Customized candies with corporate logos now account for about half of LightVision's sales, and are particularly popular among companies that want to flaunt their own innovative images.
The candy got a big boost when TheNew York Times ordered a slew of lollipops to promote the paper's switch to color printing. Disney Co. and Marvel Comics signed up as clients soon after.
The product's draw? "Combining the illusion and fantasy of a hologram with the fun and playfulness of a piece of candy," says Begleiter. The novelty factor caught the attention of private investors and secured financial backing from the confections-industry veterans the trio sought out as advisors.
With 1998 sales for the Cincinnati company estimated at a sweet $600,000, the partners know they're on the right track. "We've been noticing so much millennium stuff," Begleiter notes, "but our Christmas [lollipops] have a Victorian, classic feel to them." That's because the seasonal suckers have old-fashioned images etched onto them via the company's high-tech holographic process. "While everyone else is going one way, we're looking to go off in another, unique direction."
LightVision Confections LLC, (513) 469-0330, http://www.lightvision.com
Old Focals, (626) 793-7073, http://www.oldfocals.com