2009-07-30 / Business News

Naples man did more than think about his great idea

There probably isn't a person out there who hasn't watched an infomercial or caught something on QVC and thought, "I wish I'd thought of that!"

Naples resident Tim Jackoboice really did think of something. Then he acted on it. And now people tell him all the time, "I wish I'd thought of that!" Mr. Jackoboice's KeyRingThing is a simple idea that takes the multitude of store loyalty cards hanging on your key ring and combines them onto one easy card.

Officially launched in January, Key- RingThing hit the market gradually with radio, Web, newspaper and television news exposure. But in April, when Diane Sawyer wrapped up a "Good Morning America" segment about the best loyalty cards with KeyRingThing, its popularity exploded.

"It gave us huge exposure to the consumer market," Mr. Jackoboice says, noting that KeyRingThing was the number one Google search for two hours after the GMA piece aired. "There were thousands upon thousands of orders. At one point we were handling seven orders per minute."

And to think it all began with Mr. Jackoboice cutting out each loyalty card barcode and pasting them onto an expired Atlantis Casino card. "It was pretty medieval, but it worked," he laughs.

JACKOBOICE JACKOBOICE Some might chalk KeyRingThing's success up to luck or fate, but taking an idea and transforming it into a functional business item takes considerable work, commitment and the right people. From the time he outlined the concept on a cocktail napkin in a New York City restaurant to its public unveiling, nearly a year and a half had passed.

Many other product ideas have occurred to Mr. Jackoboice over the years, but until KeyRingThing he never moved beyond the concept stage to actual production. "I felt this idea had enough legs to seem promising. And I was willing to put the time and money and effort into running with it," he says.

Mr. Jackoboice isn't alone. Countless people have ideas for things that could make life a little easier for all. The question is how to take that idea and turn it into a reality — and a profitable one at that. Having been through it and now all-consumed with his invention, Mr. Jackoboice offers this advice:

• Have a business and a marketing plan. Yes, they take time to develop, but you must have a plan, he stresses.

Naples resident Tim Jackoboice shows off his creation, KeyRingThing. Naples resident Tim Jackoboice shows off his creation, KeyRingThing. • Always have a non-disclosure agreement that will allow you to talk to others about your idea without the threat of them stealing it. "Anyone can duplicate what someone else is doing. Just protect yourself before you go out there," he advises.

• Don't be afraid of rejections and mistakes. They are part of the business atmosphere.

• You have to trust those you are working with. "Use common sense to the degree that it gets you to the next level," he says.

• You must cater to the end-user. Listen to what your customers tell you.

• Before you take your product to market, make sure everything is working and it is packaged attractively. "KeyRingThing had to be right and impressive and work before we ever got the opportunity for a call from 'Good Morning America,'" he says.

Overall, he adds, be adaptable and evolve as your product evolves. Believe in your product. And keep the message simple and direct for your customers.

"At some point you have to take a chance," he concludes.

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