At 21, Jack Panzarella moved back home with his parents to cut his expenses so he could introduce his first invention, a high-voltage neon light that operates using a transformer. Powered by a car's battery, the Undercar Neon makes a car's undercarriage glow in the dark. Now Panzarella, 29, has three major product lines--Auto-Neon (a line of car products), Sport-Neon (for in-line skaters) and Home-Neon (a line of clocks, sculptures and accent lighting)--with a combined total of more than 200 products. His Wayne, New Jersey, company, Street Glow Inc., now employs more than 200 people and had estimated sales of $16 million last year.
Panzarella's parents helped him in more ways than just providing a place to live. They're both entrepreneurs, and growing up, he knew from their example that he'd someday start his own business. His idea for neon auto accessories succeeded, despite his limited budget, because his invention had drama and pizzazz--in other words, he had a product people couldn't help but notice.
No invention sells as well or as easily as an eye-catching one. Panzarella has expanded his business by capitalizing on his flair for the dramatic and using event-oriented marketing tactics to build customer awareness.
Don Debelak (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a new-business marketing consultant who has been introducing 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)