DODOcase Wins Shopify Challenge

This one goes out to the entrepreneurs on the site. Some of you may remember an entrepreneurship challenge I highlighted on the site back in December. The Shopify Challenge was the brainchild of 4-Hour Work Week guru Tim Ferriss and store-building website Shopify. A company had to be started from scratch and revenues were measured over a six-month period from January through June. The grand prize went to the company with the two highest months of revenue.

The winner is a San Francisco-based start-up that succeeded by providing a decidedly low-tech accessory to a high-tech item. DODOcase founders Patrick Buckley and Craig Dalton had the idea to create custom cases for the Amazon Kindle, but never took the plunge. When Apple announced the introduction of the iPad, the two entrepreneurs were determined not to let the opportunity pass a second time. They created the DODOcase, a bamboo book cover and stand for the iPad that sells for $60 a pop. Over the course of the six-month challenge, they sold more than 10,000 of them. They expect to do $3 million in revenue for their first full year in business.

"With some 17 million iPad sales projected for year one, and Apple pricing their own 'diver wso/">suit' [neoprene] carrying cases at around $40," Mr. Buckley said, "we see a $680 million market for iPad cases alone. This is a huge opportunity, and we're the quality brand in this segment of the carrying case market."

Their marketing consisted of hiring people on Craigslist to sell the idea direct to the early adopters waiting in line at Apple stores for the iPad to drop. Positive word of mouth and mentions from a few powerful sneezers was all it took to make them the dominant player in their space.

Other prize winners of the Shopify challenge included Nashville Flood Tees, a company founded to raise money for flood relief in Nashville; Buy Mafia, a company catering to the inane Mafia Wars masses; Grove, a company selling bamboo iPhone cases (are you spotting a trend here?); and, a company selling...well...21st-Century bongs, for lack of a better term.

My hat's off to all the winners, and especially to any WSO monkeys who took my advice and threw their hat into the ring. If you did, I'd love to hear about it. Aside from the prizes and the accolades, I think one of the coolest aspects of this contest is the fact that, in the middle of the worst recession of our lifetimes, over 1,400 new businesses were started with 500 of them currently generating revenue for the long haul.

That's pretty impressive.

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