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My Buddy and Me

Got an idea for a cool promotional product? Read how this entrepreneur turned her simple idea into a successful business.

By Don Debelak

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Inspiration can strike at the oddest times. For 35-year-oldCindy Jones of Oklahoma City, it happened on Halloween back in1996, when her husband came home with a Mr. Potato Head on his carantenna. Jones thought it was cute, so she took the idea one stepfurther: She cut up a plastic pumpkin, put it over her antenna,played with the wiring, and voila, she had a lighted pumpkinon her car. "People were coming up to me, wanting to knowwhere I bought it," Jones recalls.

Since then, Jones has had her product, dubbed AntennaBuddies-currently available as an eight ball, a pair of dice,a banana man and a happy face-featured for two years onMTV's Road Rules, has signed a licensing agreement witha major neon light manufacturer, and has received orders from theJ.C. Whitney catalog and auto electronic stores. What'spropelled her success? For starters, Jones worked through amanufacturer to introduce her product since she lacked the funds tointroduce it herself. More important, though, she's got theperfect promotional product-one that's proved capable oflanding accounts with major companies.

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