Mark Terao, 38, and a friend were brainstorming business ideas when they thought of making college football calendars--an idea they concluded was so great, someone else must surely be doing it. But rather than just forget it, Terao, of Seattle, decided to do a little research. Checking with both the University of Washington in Seattle and Washington State University in Pullman, he found out that not only was no one making football calendars, but the schools were hungry for such a product. "That opened the door," he says.
Terao formed Pure Image Inc. in 1997 (of which his friend owns a small part), producing a 16-month wall calendar for both universities, including a photo of the stadiums, pictures of former players, statistics and a game schedule. The next year, he expanded to 10 schools. "This year, we're doing 23 schools," Terao says. "Next year, we're set to do 30 to 35." In addition to football, he also does basketball calendars for some schools.
The college calendar has sparked a number of other products, including promotional calendars for private companies and professional sports teams--and even a computer screensaver that plays schools' fight songs. Terao expects sales to top $500,000 this year--and to double in 2000. Not bad for an opportunity that seemed too obvious to be true.