My Buddy and Me

Getting To A Manufacturer

Jones wasn't in a position to spend a lot of money on a product that wouldn't sell. So she created 15 Antenna Buddies at home and put the product up for sale at David's Electronics, a car stereo store in Oklahoma City. When the 15 units sold out in less than two weeks, Jones got an investor and applied for a patent. Problem was, Jones had no manufacturer. "I didn't have any idea how I was going to make the product," she admits. And even though major retailer RadioShack helped out by providing her with three solid leads to manufacturers of novelty automotive lighting products, she wanted to be sure to get the best deal.

Gaining Publicity

Jones' next move proved ingenious. Rather than try to raise money and manufacture her product all on her own, she decided to try to land a major publicity story to verify Antenna Buddies' potential in a lucrative market. That's where MTV came in and helped out.

Oh, it was by no means a simple task to get her product on the Road Rules show-think major hemming and hawing and a lukewarm reception to the first samples she presented to them when she flew out to the West Coast to show them her product. With persistence, though, she discovered what they wanted: something Southwestern. Enter a cow skull that finally made it onto the grill of the Road Rules trailer, which, by the way, gets quite a bit of airtime. "Rather than walk away," says Jones, "I just kept asking what they wanted to see."

What was probably most important for Jones was that her target customers, teens and young adults, also constitute the bulk of MTV's audience, a fact that was certainly not lost on the manufacturers she later approached for help with her product.

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This article was originally published in the September 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: My Buddy and Me.

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