What: Pocket-size finger-flicking sports
Who: Richard Crasnick of FIKI Sports
Where: Gardena, California
When: Started in 2000
Startup Costs: $100,000
Richard Crasnick, 47, swears he's not a businessperson. Instead, what Crasnick has always known is sports. A former sports PR man who worked for the Los Angeles Lakers through the 1980s, Crasnick grew up playing paper football with his brother.
When his own sports PR firm fizzled, Crasnick didn't want to work for anyone but himself and had the idea of starting a new business based on his childhood love of paper football. But instead of selling plastic footballs like other toy companies, Crasnick wanted FIKI (Flick It & Kick It) Sports to offer a more durable product. He took the triangle design of a folded paper football and had a Chinese manufacturer craft the toy in leather. Each product comes complete with a mini plastic field and goal.
After Crasnick's family financed his startup, he began selling FIKI Sports to game stores, independent gift shops and Hallmark stores. Crasnick admits he was initially naive about being in business. "I thought, 'I've got a cool product, I'll show it to a buyer and they'll buy it,'" Crasnick says. "There's a lot more to it than that. You've really got to be on your toes."
In 2002, after two years of an increasing flow of business--and an increasing workload--Crasnick brought in his friend Craig Matthews as FIKI's vice president. The same year, he obtained licensing for college sports logos. FIKI Sports has since expanded its line to include baseball, basketball, hockey and soccer, in addition to the classic football model. To offset the stress of running such a thriving business, Crasnick hosts games for his four employees.
FIKI Sports isn't showing signs of slowing down. In 2006, the business obtained the rights for NFL logos and started selling products in chain retailers such as Big 5 and Sears last year. Crasnick and Matthews are currently working on perfecting FIKI Golf and expect sales of at least $2 million for 2008.