Tee for Two
Vital Stats: Elaine Hodgson, 47; Richard Ditton, 50; co-founders of Incredible Technologies Inc. (IT) in Arlington Heights, Illinois
Company: Manufacturer of coin-operated computer video games
Projected 2003 Sales: $60 million
Drive: When their employer, which did contract work for home video game publishers, stopped giving out paychecks to its employees, designers/programmers Hodgson and Ditton decided to start anew and play by their own rules.
Ace! The partners say their popular 3-D simulated golf game, Golden Tee Fore!, is the most successful coin-operated arcade-style game since Pac-Man, based on revenue from player use. In approximately 35,000 bars or other venues, thousands pay the $3 to $5 fee to play a virtual 18-hole round. Even with the proliferation of home gaming systems, Golden Tee draws crowds. "People still want to go out, have a few drinks and socialize," Hodgson theorizes. Other IT offerings include deer hunting and a shooting gallery.
"From accounting to programming to taking out the garbage, we've done it. Now we have over 110 employees."
R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Hodgson and Ditton were married when they started IT. Now divorced, they defy convention by still working together-amicably. What's the secret? "Great respect," reveals Ditton. "I respect Elaine, and she respects me. We have three children and a business. Although there were problems along the way, we worked out the differences."
Stay Putt: Golden Tee continues to flourish, with 400,000 registered "golfers" vying for $200,000 in tournament prize money. Linked online from each video game, finalists meet face-to-face in a national championship, with winners advancing to a world championship. Tiger Woods, watch out.