Pictures That Pop

Give Your plastic some style.
From the May 2008 issue of Entrepreneur

What: Credit card covers with artwork
Who: Anthony David Adams and Bowen Dwelle of CreditCovers
Where: Madison, Wisconsin
When: Started in 2007
Startup costs: $30,000

After working for several Fortune 500 companies as an idea man, 27-year-old Anthony David Adams was tired of making money for other people. He wanted to create an original idea for a product and company that he could profit from directly.

"I was interested in creating something that would reach a large amount of people," says Adams. After just 30 minutes of brainstorming, he had the concept: personalized "skins" for credit cards, with pop art that would make consumers take notice.

Along with CreditCovers co-founder Bowen Dwelle, 38, Adams hammered a business plan together and secured the startup costs, launching the company in January last year. "For a few hundred bucks, I got the prototype done," Adams says. "It wasn't a million-dollar investment."

Adams did the prototype art himself, but he knew that using exclusive original artwork from popular artists would be the key to success. He approached alternative, counterculture illustrators such as comic artist Jim Mahfood and skateboard artist Todd Francis to create the visual aspects of the covers. Mahfood's designs include beautiful women, while Francis created a tongue-in-cheek parody of traditional patriotic credit card designs--a sinister vulture and a logo that reads "Bloodsucking Financial Institution."

The covers were first sold in local clothing and accessories store Sukara Sterling, and word-of-mouth helped the four-person company get a foothold in specialty clothing stores and youth culture boutiques. The business' small size allows Adams and Dwelle to run it from their laptops. CreditCovers, now sold on every continent as well as on creditcovers.com, expects sales of more than $1 million this year.

With franchise deals in progress, Adams is keeping his hopes for 2008 modest.

"Our goal is to cover every credit card in the world," he says. "We'll see how far we get this year."

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