What: Portable notebook and pen that fit in your wallet
Who: Alan Regala of Everyday Innovations
Where: Mountain View, California
When: Started in 2005
Startup Costs: $100,000
Alan Regala, 30, was tired of forgetting to bring his lunch to work. While working as a mechanical engineer, Regala decided to put a sticky note with the word lunch on his wallet. The simple solution convinced Regala that even with the constant use of cell phones and BlackBerrys, paper still comes in handy. "There are just some instances when you're out and want to hand someone a note," Regala says.
While on vacation in 2004, Regala decided to test a prototype he'd developed by inserting sticky notes and a tiny ballpoint pen into a small credit card-size case. Regala found plenty of opportunities to leave a note--for example, when he noticed a car leaking radiator fluid, he left a friendly message on the windshield. He returned home inspired and decided to leave his job in early 2005 to further develop his prototype, the PicoPad--which is cleverly named after a picometer, a unit of measurement smaller than a nanometer. "I was so zoned in and so pumped up about the product, I really didn't have any doubts," Regala says. He started selling the PicoPad in September 2005 as the first product for his company, Everyday Innovations.
Last year, Regala began selling in nation-wide retailer The Container Store. Customers can also find the $3.99 PicoPad at Amazon.com or in independent office supply stores and bookstores. It includes 15 sheets of refillable sticky notes and comes in six colors with additional fashion and holiday designs. For companies or those looking to get creative, custom designs and imprinting are also available.
With sales of $500,000 last year, Regala is still the company's only full-time employee, and he's planning to release new designs targeted at the tween market later this year.