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Why It's Nearly Impossible To Stop This Amazon and eBay Scheme

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This story appears in the August 2016 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Fred Ruckel was an advertising guy. At 25, he started his own agency, and over 12 years he developed commercials for the Super Bowl, Lays and Pepsi. But he never considered himself a Mad man. "I've always been an inventor," he says. A tinkerer. An explorer. He was a guy with ideas but no time to pursue them. So in 2011, his wife, Natasha, gave him the gift of a lifetime: Quit your job, she said. She'd cover the bills while he built a new career. Ruckel immediately went to his business partner and said, "I'm out. I'm going to go change my life."

Photographs by David Yellen
Fred Ruckle at his home workshop, where he makes his cat toys.

He opened a production studio. He sunk $30,000 into an app. He experimented. And on Valentine's Day 2015, as his wife was playing the piano at home, he watched their cat, Yoda, discover a new toy: a rug under the couple's drum set. It had become rippled, and Yoda swatted at the resulting funny shapes. Ruckel knew: This was it.

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