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Living On The Edge

On the verge of bankruptcy . . . on the verge of freezing . . . on the verge of multimillion-dollar success--take your pick.

Graham McFarland put the finishing touches on his resignation letter and settled back in his seat. Soon, he would land in New Jersey, give his final sales pitch for Express Digital, fly back to Denver, submit his letter, and then he would be done with the company he'd created. All the then 29-year-old husband and father of two small children could look forward to was trying to avoid bankruptcy. He was $30,000 in credit card debt after three years of trying to keep his firm afloat.

It had seemed like a great idea at the time. Back in 1994, McFarland, who is now 32, had been having lunch in Denver with three people: his boss, Steve Hiratsuka; mutual friend Dave Hurd; and a pal of Hiratsuka and Hurd's. The pal made a passing comment about baseball cards that evolved into an animated discussion about Little League baseball and soccer teams. They all wondered:"Why couldn't there be collector cards for kids who play sports at the elementary school level?"

"Well, you'd think with the new digital technology, it would be possible," someone said.

And the idea percolated until they decided McFarland would do some research on the subject.

Geoff Williams is a feature reporter at The Cincinnati Post. He frequently contributes to Entrepreneur and has written articles for many other publications, including LIFE and Entertainment Weekly.

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Geoff Williams has written for numerous publications, including Entrepreneur, Consumer Reports, LIFE and Entertainment Weekly. He also is the author of Living Well with Bad Credit.

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This article was originally published in the December 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Living On The Edge.

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