Creating accessories for a hot-selling product line can be the path to quick riches, but it's also a very risky business.
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Four years ago, Jason Entner was first in line to snap up Apple Computer's original iPod. He loved its size and sound, and it became his traveling companion at trade shows, where he promoted his fledgling home-accessories design firm. But Entner felt something was missing. His iPod needed a case, and there wasn't anything on the market. So he started designing his own cases. "It was something to house my iPod, as well as [an] extremely deficient [niche] in the market," says Entner, 33.
Today, Lifepod, founded in 2002, designs and manufactures funky accessories for iPods, from cases and "cooler bags" to wallets and iPod-friendly laptop cases. Lifepod's products are sold at Urban Outfitters, specialty stores and college bookstores. It's been an amazing ride for Entner, who works alongside Lifepod's four full-time employees in the company's New York City office. Apple Computer has sold about 42 million iPods to date, which in turn powered Lifepod's 2005 sales to more than $1 million. Three years ago, "nobody knew what an iPod was, so why would anybody buy a case for one?" he says. "This past Christmas, the [iPod] was one of the [must-have] gifts."
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