February 20, 2017

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SparkFun

Sparkfun (1)

When this college student couldn’t afford an electronic component, he launched a million dollar business — by accident. The electrifying story of SparkFun.

Trouble getting electronic components was the start of this multi-million dollar business. It’s the story of a guy who solved an immediate problem and launched a career.

In 2002, Nathan Seidle was a junior studying electrical engineering at The University of Colorado – Boulder. He was designing his first microcontroller project when his programmer sparked and burned out.

In case you’re wondering, a microcontroller runs a program or application without the need for a computer. Microcontrollers are in your MP3 players, digital thermostats, remote controls and anti-lock brakes.

sparkfunAnyway, Nathan needed a new microcontroller component so he went online. And he discovered that tiny electronic replacements were scarce and expensive.

So when he finally located cheap, high-quality parts — in Bulgaria! — he imported them. Lots of them. And began selling them to his fellow electronic geeks from his bedroom.

That winter break he maxed out his credit card and built an online store: Sparkfun Electronics. By graduation, Sparkfun was a full-time business.

A decade later, Sparkfun offers all sorts of electronic gadgets and gizmos — right down to the little trackball on Blackberries.

In addition to products, the company’s Department of Education offers classes and online tutorials to – as its website describes it – “help educate individuals in the wonderful world of embedded electronics”

Today Sparkfun employs more than 130 employees and has a product catalog boasting more than 2,000 components and widgets to unleash your “inner inventor.”

Nathan Seidle exemplifies one of our Business Axioms for Entrepreneurs: Think around your frustration. You can solve your problems – and profit from them too.

Nathan Seidle certainly did. His company’s recent sales? $7 million.

Sparkfun — Inexpensive electronic components to “let your geek shine.” Now Why Didn’t I Think of That?

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