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My Buddy and Me

Got an idea for a cool promotional product? Read how this entrepreneur turned her simple idea into a successful business.

This story appears in the September 2000 issue of Entrepreneurs Start-Ups magazine.

Inspiration can strike at the oddest times. For 35-year-old Cindy Jones of Oklahoma City, it happened on Halloween back in 1996, when her husband came home with a Mr. Potato Head on his car antenna. Jones thought it was cute, so she took the idea one step further: She cut up a plastic pumpkin, put it over her antenna, played with the wiring, and voila, she had a lighted pumpkin on her car. "People were coming up to me, wanting to know where I bought it," Jones recalls.

Since then, Jones has had her product, dubbed Antenna Buddies-currently available as an eight ball, a pair of dice, a banana man and a happy face-featured for two years on MTV's Road Rules, has signed a licensing agreement with a major neon light manufacturer, and has received orders from the J.C. Whitney catalog and auto electronic stores. What's propelled her success? For starters, Jones worked through a manufacturer to introduce her product since she lacked the funds to introduce it herself. More important, though, she's got the perfect promotional product-one that's proved capable of landing accounts with major companies.

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