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How an Engineer's Desire to Keep His Keys Organized Led to a Business Here are the five steps Michel Tunney used to take his idea from a Kickstarter campaign to retail stores.

By Danielle Beurteaux

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

Andrew Bettles

Michael Tunney used to keep a small key ring in his pocket, but he hated how the jagged metal kept jabbing his leg. One night, as he was perched on a barstool, the then-twenty-something noticed a long line of keys sitting on top of the bar. "Obviously," he thought, "I'm not the only one dealing with this issue." That insight led him to invent a new way to store keys: It's called KeySmart, a stack that looks like a Swiss Army knife, which he now makes as CEO of a 10-person company. Here's how he got from the bar to the biz.

Step 1: Develop a prototype.

Tunney was a robotics engineer in the automotive industry and knew all about prototyping. So he designed the first iteration of the KeySmart just for himself. A friend suggested he put it on Kickstarter, and in 2013 he did -- asking for a modest $6,000. Instead, he raised $330,000. Two months later, he quit his job and began working full time on KeySmart in his basement.