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What: Designer hubcaps for
Who: John D. Smith of Clever Covers Inc.
Where: Orlando, Florida
When: Started in 1996
College sports fans will buy just about anything with their favorite team's logo on it. That's why John D. Smith, 33-year-old president and CEO of Clever Covers, suspected he'd have a "built-in market of fanatics" when he designed his product, a line of hubcaps emblazoned with the logos of collegiate sports teams.
"Every year, there's a new crop of graduates, there's new alumni, and [there are] guys who graduated 40 years ago who are retired and have money and can't wait for football season," Smith reasons.
He'd seen team flags and other car accessories at school stores, but nothing high-quality enough to withstand the environmental rigors of being driven around town on game nights. It took him three years to finalize the patented design for his hubcap, which is made of PVC plastic and attaches to a vehicle's wheels using industrial-strength, Velcro-like fasteners. Smith even speed-tested the hubcaps on a NASCAR racetrack to ensure they wouldn't fall off when in use.
The hubcaps, which retail for $59.95, are sold at team stores and through his company's Web site. So far they're a hot booster item with University of Florida, Miami State and Florida State University students and alumni. (Those three schools alone brought in sales of $200,000 last year.) With 20 universities in the pipeline across the country, sales are expected to top $1 million this year. What's next on the horizon for Smith? Obtaining licensing rights from a slew of professional sports teams.
What: Products and services
for active seniors
Who: David Krieff of Silver Foxes Inc.
Where: Los Angeles
When: Started in 1991
Today's seniors are dating, exercising, traveling and living youthful lives, regardless of their ages. David Krieff, an Emmy-nominated ex- co-producer of Miami Vice, saw this vitality firsthand in his 100-year-old grandfather Morrie. In fact, Krieff was so inspired that he launched a company dedicated to active seniors.
"Part of our message," says Krieff, 40, "is [to] create products and services for the aging and active [population] who have personality, and speak directly and impassion them."
The company's first exercise video, released in 1991, starred the parents of celebrities, including Cindy Crawford, Al Pacino and Sylvester Stallone, and sold nearly 3 million copies. In 1999, Krieff developed partnerships with leading vitamin and juice manufacturers and released a line of nutritional products under the Silver Foxes brand.
Through the Silver Foxes Web site, Krieff also offers such senior population services as travel packages, a romance and friendship division, and medical advice. Thanks to so many youthful seniors out there, Krieff expects sales for 2002 to exceed $4 million.