From the February 2003 issue of Startups

Big opportunities sometimes come in small packages. For Mike Kasbohm, his came in the form of a 74-inch-by-26-inch photo booth. Kasbohm, 41, is president of STI Entertainment, distributor of the Kodak StickerPrint Entertainment Kiosk. This interactive photo kiosk offers 36 different backgrounds and produces 16 sticker photographs at a time. Kasbohm personally operates more than 30 kiosks in Minneapolis and surrounding areas. His opportunity came two and a half years ago, but it was one that required more work than expected.

In 2000, Kasbohm invested in the Kodak StickerPrint business opportunity for the first time. He paid $36,000 for six machines, only to realize that the marketing company that had sold him the kiosks had exaggerated its estimates of the returns. He received false information and zero support, and the seller promptly went out of business. "It was a business opportunity that gives business opportunities a bad name," Kasbohm says.

Forced to learn all the details on his own, it was only through perseverance that Kasbohm was able to save his initial investment...and gain a thorough enough understanding of the business in the process that he was able to take over as the distributor of the opportunity.

With his new role, Kasbohm has finally been able to turn the business around. He provides phone support, puts together a monthly newsletter, has created a Web site and offers a virtual brochure that helps other kiosk owners find the right locations. "I spend a lot of time turning around operators who got involved the same way I did, teaching them what I learned," he says.

The fully equipped kiosk ranges from $2,995 to $3,699, and, according to Kasbohm, can be paid off in six months if you place it in the right location. Kiosks can be set up anywhere--from malls and movie theaters to indoor recreational centers and fairgrounds. "How fast you bring in revenue depends on the locations you choose," Kasbohm says.

He suggests new investors start the business slowly and find the locations first. Likewise, he does his best to bring in only the people who are ready. "I've turned away a lot of people who wanted to hear the blue-sky story," he says. "I want to make sure I'm setting up somebody for success and not just taking his money and running."