This entrepreneur found a business idea in a material that sparked his creativity.
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When it comes to the uses of electroluminescent wire, many mightdraw a blank. Others, like Benjamin James Jr., founder ofproduction company Funhouse Productions, see the bendable, glowingphosphor wire and envision a luminescent, colorful school of 4-footfish swimming through the pitch-dark Nevada desert.
In 1999, James brought his fish to life at Burning Man, anannual art festival, and was further inspired to import theIsraeli-made wire after realizing how difficult the material was toobtain. He trademarked the wire Cool Neon and revolutionized his12-year-old Oakland, California, business by becoming the primarysource for wire artists worldwide. Cool Neon applications rangefrom necklaces to safety lighting. And with help from his eagerfriends, James has taken on some innovative projects, includingmaking glowing suits for the recording artist Beck."There's a wide margin between business andpleasure," says James, 40, who expects 2006 sales to exceed$450,000. "It's so wide that there's plenty of roomfor all my friends to dance on the line."
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