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This story appears in the May 2001 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

If you've been on the same airplane as Billy Darnell in the past two years, you'd know it. The founder of Zoobee Inc., a Boulder, Colorado, manufacturer of watches depicting nature scenes, uses his frequent flights to rack up customers as well as miles.

He got the idea in 1999. Then 25, Darnell was on his way to a gift show. Suspecting there might be potential customers on board, he asked the flight attendants if they would allow him to pitch his products to the passengers. Denied, Darnell penned a note to the pilot requesting the opportunity to run a quick contest. The pilot, amused, gave him the green light.

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