Unicycles and Banjos

Version 3
    When I told my father-in-law that I was thinking of launching a website to sell unicycles, his first question was, "How many clowns do you know?" Several, apparently. Unicycle.com went live 10 years ago, while I was still working for IBM. Seven months later, it freed me from my job. Now with locations on four continents, Unicycle.com appears to be the largest retailer of unicycles in the world.

    I blame my brother Bob for starting all this. He brought unicycling into our family when we were kids. I learned to ride at age 12, then gave it up when I started driving. I couldn't pick up a date on a unicycle! By my 40th birthday, I had gained a pound a year since high school. I returned to riding a unicycle, this time for fitness, and that daily ride became a passion. People would stop me in our neighborhood and ask where to buy a unicycle. Soon IBM helped me build the website that made entrepreneurs of my wife and me.

    My parents used to take us to Shakey's Pizza, and that's where my love affair with the banjo began. They gave me a 5-string banjo on my 16th birthday. Nearly 25 year later my wife gave me a professional-level banjo. Using the same business model as Unicycle.com, we launched Banjo.com in 2003 and it quickly became a recognized leader in the bluegrass music industry. We co-hosted a Guiness record-setting event with the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. 240 banjo players walked on the field during a double-header between the Braves and the Phillies, and played the song Foggy Moutain Breakdown for 5 minutes. Earl Scruggs, the legendary banjo man who wrote the song back in 1949, was there in attendance.

    Our goal is to launch 8 more companies and grow them to $1 million or more in annual revenue. Once we reach that goal, we're going on vacation!