What: Magnetic 3D
Who: Tom Zerega, 28, and James Zahakos, 28
Projected 2009 Revenue: $2.5 million
The Pitch: Magnetic 3D is an industry-leading worldwide provider of 3-D digital media products, services and 3-D digital signage solutions. The company's patent-pending Enabl3DTM hardware and software solution modifies flat-panel LCD displays enabling them to show high definition 3-D video content without the need for any 3-D glasses. The effect: passersby are wowed by images that pop up to 16 inches off the screen. Today, the company's 3-D displays in various sizes have been adopted by a worldwide clientele of casinos, entertainment venues, advertisers, retailers and trade show operators. Most recently, the History Channel utilized Magnetic 3D's glasses-free 57" Enabl3DTM displays in one of the world's first 3-D storefront advertising installations in NYC to promote their new TV series Expedition. What began as a two-man start-up in 2003 is now a global operation with a sales and marketing presence in 16 countries and strategic relationships with NEC, Toshiba, Tatung USA and Samsung.
The Start Up Story: In 2003, Tom Zerega and James Zahakos founded Magnetic Media, a company that would install and operate 2-D digital signage networks in retail locations and nightclubs. Their company had great success in its start-up phase, landing several high profile contracts including an exclusive rights to the Mall of America. One day, during their travels to find new and emerging digital signage technologies and improve their business, they encountered an early prototype of a glasses-free 3-D display. Realizing that 3-D displays could forever change and disrupt the traditional 2-D signage landscape, Zerega and Zahakos decided to bet the farm. They sold the rights to their lucrative client contracts and used the proceeds to develop and patent their own 3-D LCD display technology. Three years later, in conjunction with industry-veterans and inventors, Magnetic Media transitioned into Magnetic 3-D and launched a 47" glasses-free 3-D LCD display into the marketplace.
Impressive Stat: Magnetic 3D has experienced quarter-over-quarter revenue growth since the sale of its first 3-D display in 2008 without raising any capital from investment bankers, venture capitalists or other institutional investors.
Founder Fun Facts: Tom Zerega and James Zahakos have been best friends since elementary school. The reason: they were always forced to sit or stand next to one another because both of their last names started with the letter "Z". The rest, as they say, is history.
Founders' Advice: "Focus all of your efforts on generating sales. Spending all of your time and energy seeking investment dollars can bankrupt you. Investors will find you if and when the time is right."
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