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Home Fires Burning Spark nationwide success for your product with some sales fuel from your local neighborhood stores.

By Don Debelak

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Plenty of inventors start their companies without the experienceor financial resources they need to market their products. That canmake it hard to land major accounts. The best approach for many newinventors is to start selling their products locally, wherehometown ties can be a big selling point, and then expand intonational distribution.

That's how Dale Carsel and Bob Schneider did it. In 1995,the two partners got a job painting a large home in Beachwood,Ohio. When they discovered the owner planned to decorate much ofthe house with wallpaper, they suggested achieving the same effectwith faux finishing, the art of painting with a sponge, rag orother applicator to make the painted space look as though it hadbeen decorated in another medium. To handle the job, Carsel, 49,and Schneider, 47, made 6-by-6-inch pattern sponges that couldfinish a room at one-third the cost of wallpapering.

Charles Zuchowski, 49, a building contractor and the owner ofthe house, loved the look-and the tool. Together, the threeconsidered marketing the sponges under the name SpongePrince. Aftergetting rave reviews from a patent attorney and some local interiordecorators, they formed Wall Concepts Plus Inc. Their firststrategy? Focus on the local market.

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