Profiting From Loss

Photo by © John Sobczak, Lorien Studio

Craig Nabat

Craig Nabat

Ambitious Ideas, Inc. develops and markets FINDIT, a tiny device that attaches to car keys, cordless phones, purses and any item people tend to lose. When FINDIT user loses the item, he or she claps three times, and FINDIT beeps until the item is found. It took Nabat seven years to develop the product, but in the last six months, Ambitious Ideas, Inc. has sold more than 10,000 FINDIT's through a television infomercial and a web site,

Past Challenges:
In the beginning, "I did everything wrong," Nabat says. He wasted startup cash on research he say he could have done for free at the library if he had known better. Nabat didn't have an engineering background, so he worked with six engineers for seven years to develop the device. Ambitious Ideas also outsources work to contractors, many of whom worked for a share of the profits, but the rest of whom had to be paid. It has cost close to $700,000 to put FINDIT on the market, and accumulating such a sum of money from family contributors and bank loans (without the help of outside investors) was a challenge.

Key to Success:
Nabat contributes his success in fundraising and FINDIT's rapid sales to a clear and concise business plan, which he revises constantly, based on the company's performance. Nabat, who was featured as 'one of the Nation's sexiest Entrepreneurs' in Entrepreneur Magazine's Startups Magazine (Oct. 2000), is also a strong advocate of personal endorsement. He says it prevents knockoffs and fosters product identification. FINDIT's boxes, displays, infomercial and Web site all feature Nabat's grin.

Future Goal:
FINDIT will be available in stores within the next six months, Nabat says, but he hopes to continue the success of the television and web marketing campaigns as well, selling 2 million units total by mid-2002. Nabat also says that Ambitious Ideas will soon begin manufacturing a line of 23 new consumer products, a FINDIT clothing line, in addition to the original FINDIT.

Words of Wisdom:
Above all, Nabat advises entrepreneurs to show collaborators and customer that they're ambitious, dedicated, and persistent. And don't be afraid to ask for guidance when needed. "Consult people who have already succeeded," says Nabat. "They'll usually be happy to give advice."

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