Something Old, Something New

Partner up.

Kris Ramer always wanted her own business. After graduating from college with a degree in small-business management, Ramer, now 27, decided to put her schooling to use by forming a company with her father to market one of his inventions.

Her father, Paul Ramer, 58, already owned Ramer Products, a company that marketed ski-mountaineering equipment. His new invention, Notwax, lubricated cross-country skis and snowboards without using wax. The product worked well, but the only way to sell it was to get users to actually try it, and Ramer Products didn't have the distribution network needed to market Notwax. So Kris and her father formed a new company, Zardoz, in Boulder, Colorado, solely to market Notwax.

Notwax required "legwork" to succeed: Someone had to actually go out to ski resorts and demonstrate to skiers and snowboarders how Notwax worked. Products requiring legwork--like Notwax--are ideally suited for young entrepreneurs with lots of energy and enthusiasm.

Kris teamed up with her father, but you don't have to have an inventor in the family to make such a partnership work for you. There are thousands of older inventors who could benefit from a young partner with energy and determination. If you don't have enough money to start your own business, consider teaming up with an older inventor instead.

Don Debelak ( is a new-business marketing consultant who has introduced 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).

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This article was originally published in the January 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Something Old, Something New.

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