Follow Your Inspiration

When these entrepreneurs had a good idea, they ran with it.
This story appears in the September 2008 issue of Startups. Subscribe »

All Coaches on Deck
By Jake Kilroy

When high-tech didn't deliver for Brian Gotta, he shuffled his thinking and went hands on instead.

What: Decks of cards with coaching instructions
Who: Brian Gotta of CoachDeck
Where: San Diego
When: Started in 2007
Startup Costs: $55,000

As a volunteer coach who has served on his local Little League board for eight years, Brian Gotta found it difficult to recruit coaches who were both knowledgeable about the sport and willing to participate. "Leagues everywhere, for every sport, have volunteer coaches who've sort of heroically said, 'OK, I'll do it,'" says Gotta, 44. "But deep down, they are scared to death."

To counter that anxiety, he started CoachDeck, a company that makes decks of cards containing 52 drills that are broken down into four fundamental, color-coded categories. For baseball, the four categories are infield, outfield, base-running and hitting. Gotta brought on the director of coaching at a local soccer club to help launch the soccer deck. The consultant provided the drills for shooting, passing, dribbling and defense. Similar categories appear in the basketball deck, which launched in September with the help of a basketball consultant. Gotta will bring on a new consultant for the football deck this winter. The cards are sold both online (coachdeck.com)?and in various retail stores.

Gotta established his product as an alternative to coaching books, DVDs and websites, which can be intimidating for new coaches. He learned this firsthand in 2004 when he launched coachguide.com to lackluster response. "When you hand a busy volunteer coach a book, DVD or manual, the first thing he or she is going to think is 'Oh, this means more work,'" he says. "It ends up going on the shelf." Gotta, who pro-jects 2008 sales of $300,000, knows precisely why CoachDeck works: "It's easy, it's portable, and it's fast."


Functional Fashion
Kristen Henning

What: Jeweled and pearl pins that clasp to hold clothing or shawls in place
Who: Rajat and Sharmila Sil of Bosom Button
Where: Clifton, New Jersey
When: Started in 2007
Startup Costs: $10,000

As a lawyer in New York City, Sharmila Sil found herself experiencing the same wardrobe problem time and time again: trendy clothing that showed a little too much skin for the workplace. One morning, she was running late while trying to pin together the top of a wrap dress. At that moment, she discovered how to remedy the problem once and for all. She started brainstorming the following weekend and developed a prototype, using a Swarovski crystal as a pin. After sharing the idea with family and friends, she quickly realized that if other businesswomen were encountering similar problems with revealing or loose clothing, she might have found the perfect niche market. Sil followed her instincts, and Bosom Button was born.

"Bosom Button provides women with a trendy alternative to safety pins or double-sided tape," says Sil. "It's easy to use and convenient, so you don't waste time if you're in a rush."

While still working full time as a lawyer, Sil, 33, now devotes her nights and weekends to Bosom Button. Her husband and co-founder, Rajat, 33, handles the finances and sales. Her parents, sister and sister's fiance also joined the staff, making Bosom Button a family affair. Selling for $12 to $25, the buttons come in styles and colors including crystal, jet black, white pearl and amethyst. The products are available online at bosom button.com as well as in Zitomer department stores in New York City and national boutiques such as Torrid.

During the next couple of years, Sil hopes to expand into more retail chains throughout the U.S. and abroad and to release new styles, including different colors and finishes. With sales projections of $200,000 this year, Sil is well on her way to her goal of making Bosom Button a household name. "My favorite part about what I do is seeing an idea come to fruition," she says. "This has brought my family closer together."

Edition: December 2016

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