What: Reusable four-ply cloth around a foam liner attached to a circular disk on an aluminum pole; used for cleanups
Who: Kurt Robinson of No Sweat Wipe
Where: Garden Grove, California
When: Started in 2002
An artist by trade, Kurt Robinson, 41, might not have made his riches through his artwork, but he did hit it big when he came up with a creative solution for a messy situation. His inspiration came when basketball player Shaquille O'Neal took a spill on the court. Riveted to the TV, it was not the fall that grabbed his attention but rather the mop that was used to clean the court afterwards. A stick with a towel taped to the end seemed ineffective, unsanitary and definitely something he could improve on.
Robinson immediately put his idea on paper and approached an engineer friend who created the perfect prototype after four attempts, complete with an adjustable pole and a detachable pad. With his final prototype in hand, Robinson approached Kevin Columbus, a friend and his current business partner, who had important basketball connections as well as the marketable idea ofusing the top of the circular disk for advertising space.The innovative mop appealed to the Los Angeles Clippers, thefirst team to give the product a try. No Sweat Wipe currently haspartnerships with 25 of the 30 NBA teams. Robinson offers them theproduct for free in exchange for a portion of the revenue generatedfrom the advertising. Meanwhile, the company has developed No SweatMitts--smaller versions of the No Sweat Wipe which can be worn onthe hands--and plans to make them available next year.
With 2005 sales expected to be at least $2 million, Robinson doesn't believe he's reached the top of his game yet. He hopes to make it big both on and off the court by donating profits to local charities and organizations dedicated to the education of inner-city kids. Says Robinson, "I've been blessed with this idea, and we're working on giving back."