Vic Pella spent six years in the film industry, ran a part-time promotional products business with a partner in Hong Kong, then started a pool-cleaning business. But in late 1996, the entrepreneurial bug struck again, and the 30-year-old inventor decided to take advantage of the surefire market opportunity the year 2000 represents.
Pella's Studio City, California, company, Idea Express Inc., makes a line of products for the year 2000, including a baseball hat with an LCD panel on the front that flashes "Happy 2000"; a teddy bear that shouts "Happy Millennium" when you squeeze it; and the "Countdown Candle," which burns down during the last seven days of the millennium, revealing a solid "2000" at its core.
Fads, onetime events or current events like Desert Storm or former pro wrestler Jesse "The Body" Ventura's election as governor of Minnesota are often great opportunities for fast-moving entrepreneurs. You can profit, too, by following the same steps Pella did: 1) Get a trademark, design patent or copyright if applicable; 2) have a manufacturer lined up in advance; and 3) use trade shows to set up an instant distribution network.
Don Debelak (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a new-business marketing consultant who has introduced new products for more than 20 years. He is the author of Bringing Your Product to Market (John Wiley & Sons, $19.95, 800-225-5945).