Hoop Dreams

When you're having trouble finding a manufacturer for your product, these ideas may help you locate the one you want.

Anyone who loves basketball as much as Jason Parr does would understand his need to shoot hoops during the workday back when he worked at a Farmington Hills, Missouri, media management firm in 1995. Lunchtime, of course, was the perfect time to do this, but hauling around a cumbersome portable basketball hoop in the bed of his pickup truck didn't sound too appealing. Hence, a brainstorm: "Why not install a basketball hoop in a pickup truck?" he thought. Parr then went to work with his uncle, an engineer, and created a hoop that folds up and down (similar to a convertible top). Presto! Instant basketball, any time there's a paved parking lot.

Parr, now 35, has two patents on his invention, called Pickup Hoops, and has even sold two units to Nike, which uses the hoops to set up basketball demonstrations. But the product hasn't gone any further yet, as Parr has focused on getting a licensing deal from a major sporting goods store or pickup truck manufacturer.

When potential buyers didn't bite right away, Parr decided to create interest in his product by organizing events and displaying it everywhere he went. He has provided the hoops for a wheelchair basketball league, run his own tournament, set up Pickup Hoops at the last three Final Fours and even set his product up at big rest areas whenever he travels. "I attract a big crowd [everywhere I go with it]," says Parr.

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This article was originally published in the January 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Hoop Dreams.

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