Having a Ball
What: Bracelets made from authentic baseball materials with team logos
Who: Frank Cerullo and Nick Iovacchini of GameWear
Where: Branchville, New Jersey
When: Started in 2002
How much: $50,000
W hen Frank Cerullo told his family about his plans to start GameWear, he didn't get quite the reaction he was hoping for. "I said, 'I think I'm going to quit my job and do this full time,' and I pulled out this ratty old necklace that we cut from a baseball," recalls Cerullo, 28. "I'll never forget the look on my aunt's face."
"It was hard to convince people how serious we were about it," adds Nick Iovacchini, 27.
The idea formed in 2000 while the co-founders were playing baseball for George Washington University. From a ruined baseball, the friends created necklaces for themselves and their teammates. As the necklaces' popularity grew, Cerullo and Iovacchini realized they had a business on their hands. After college, in 2002, they started GameWear with $50,000 from their own pockets. In addition to the necklaces, they created bracelets using the same baseball material and featuring the prominent red stitching.
While getting their business off the ground, Iovacchini took a bartending job and Cerullo taught at a local college. For two years, the pair spent their off hours on GameWear, finalizing their designs and hunting for manufacturers. After a search for U.S. manufacturers proved fruitless, they found a company in China that met their needs. Their work paid off when they signed a licensing deal with Major League Baseball, obtaining the rights to put MLB team logos on their bracelets.
Now the company has grown to 12 employees, and its bracelets also feature team logos from the NBA, NCAA football, the NFL and the NHL. Available online at www.wearthegame.com and at nearly every MLB stadium and NBA arena, the bracelets are expected to bring in 2006 sales in the high seven-figure range.