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Paternal Instincts

Have a feeling that marketing to dads is a smart move? You're right on the money.

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This story appears in the October 2004 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

If you want to hit the next big thing, it's all about catering to dads who are spending more time with their kids, and who need products and services formerly geared only to mothers. Recent U.S. Census data show there are 25.8 million fathers in married-couple households raising children younger than 18. And there are 2 million preschoolers whose fathers care for them for more hours than any other child-care provider while their mothers are at work. Also counting the 2 million single fathers in the United States, there's a growing demand for father-centric products.

A father himself, Chris Pegula founded his Santa Monica, California, company to make cool diaper bags that resemble messenger bags for dads. Diaper Dude was born about May 2003 after Pegula, 32, couldn't find anything he liked on the market for his outings with his children. Says Pegula, "[I thought] 'I'm just going to design a bag and sell it and see if it works.'" The fashionable bag, an immediate hit with dads, is now available at high-end stores like Fred Segal and Nordstrom, boosting annual sales to a projected $350,000 for 2004.

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