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Snapshot 02/04

Allison Kugel, 29, founder of LongIslandLefty.com and TireSignal.com, Plainview, New York
February 1, 2004
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/66416

Description: E-tailer offering products geared toward left-handed people; imported tire-pressure monitor caps and other automotive accessories offered on a second site

Start-up:LongIslandLefty.com, $500; TireSignal.com, $1,000

Sales: Projected combined sales for 2004, $1.1 million

Lose-win situation: After being laid off post 9/11, Kugel found salvation while perusing an Internet start-up book her 15-year-old brother Jared had ordered. A supplier for left-handed products intrigued the brother and sister enough that they pooled their savings to co-found LongIslandLefty.com. (Jared has since left the company.)

Southpaws rule! Operating lean and out of her parents' home, Kugel had an old college friend-now a Web developer-create her Web site plans in exchange for homemade cookies. Initially ordering from suppliers, the Kugels eventually started working with manufacturers directly, developing products like a left-handed notebook and can opener. Sixty percent of their customer base consists of parents and their school-aged children, who often provide positive feedback. "We get a lot of e-mails from kids," Kugel beams. "Those are my favorite letters.

Two-tired: Entrepreneurship struck again when Kugel's father, who is in the tire business, showed her the pressure-indicating tire caps he got as a sample. While clever, the product had never gained popularity. Kugel discovered that her cousin was developing a similar product, and the cousin allowed her to launch TireSignal.com, opting to be a ghost partner in the business. (Kugel is in the process of buying the cousin out.)

Starting with online orders and bulk overseas sales, they landed an account with AAA, and sales reps and distributors all over the country now sell the car accessory to retail stores. Kugel now has offices in Plainview and New York City as well as warehouses in Clark Summit, Pennsylvania, and Long Island, New York.