What: MP3 player inside a Pez dispenser
Who: Patrick Misterovich of Lincoln West Studio LLC
Where: Springfield, Missouri
When: Started in July 2004
Startup Costs: $200,000
In July 2004, Misterovich was a stay-at-home dad when he read an article featuring an entrepreneur who had turned Altoid tins into iPod speakers. The idea inspired the 40-year-old ex-IT administrator to make a list of other possible candies and electronics that could be combined: laser pointers, Life Savers, USB drives. But nothing seemed to fit until he noticed "MP3 players" and "Pez dispensers" sitting idly on his list like two lost souls waiting for someone to play Cupid.
Five minutes later, Misterovich was e-mailing Pez about licensing its dispensers to create a Pez dispenser-shaped MP3 player and was only steps away from turning his self-proclaimed "crazy idea" into reality.
"I knew it was feasible after five minutes of research," says Mistero-vich, "but I had no clue if there was a market [or] how much it would cost."
That weekend, Misterovich spent $50 on Google ads and created a short survey to test the market. To his surprise, everyone from toy collectors to anti-establishment teens was interested in the product.
But after waiting six months to finalize the license with Pez and stopping production at 1,500 after learning he would need approval from product compliance agency UL to continue with a second run, Misterovich started feeling as if someone had pulled the emergency brake on his sprouting home business.
"When you come up with an idea, and two hours later you have the company saying, 'We're willing to license you,' you think everything is going to happen quickly," says Misterovich. "But it takes time to make something."
The response has been positive, and current sales are at $120,000. In 2006, Misterovich sold out of his origi-nal production run and received approval from Pez to go forward with the second edition of Pez MP3 players, which have passed UL testing and will go into production early this year. In the future, Misterovich also hopes to expand outside his online sales forum, www.pezmp3.com.
Says Misterovich, "It just makes me feel good that I came up with a product people think is cool."