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8 big ideas to watch in '08

Sir Richard will help fund U.S. entrepreneurs, jetpacks will finally fly, and GPS devices will show the cheapest gas nearby - plus much more! Check out our Next Little Thing picks for 2008.

Jet P.I. pilot Eric Scott charges $25,000 for aerial appearances.
Troy Widgery's company, JetPack International, has spent the past two years developing a device that fulfills those Jetsons-era fantasies - and can keep you airborne for all of nine minutes.

Widgery is a former champion skydiver and entrepreneur. He founded Go Fast Sports in 1992, a company that markets energy drinks to extreme-sports fans in 18 countries. A taste for stunts led Go Fast to launch the first civilian unmanned rocket into space in 2004. Widgery decided that using a jetpack with the Go Fast brand at sports events would "just make us cooler."

His quest for a jetpack that wouldn't bankrupt the company soon took on a life of its own, eating up more than $1 million in development costs and spawning Jet Pack International (Jet P.I.).

Soon he hit upon the idea of using three small jet turbine engines, powered by jet fuel, and a pack constructed with lightweight carbon fiber. Fuel for a single flight would now cost just $20.

Jet P.I. has already been turning a profit, thanks to an earlier jetpack prototype that flies for 45 seconds. Pilot Eric Scott grosses $25,000 a flight by booking demonstrations at air shows as far-flung as Amsterdam and Bolivia, and at a recent Monday Night Football game.

Based on interest from prospective buyers, Widgery's (highly optimistic) projection is for sales of $30 million a year by 2010. He is also developing a videogame and hiring professional pilots. "It's a dream job," Widgery says.

Virgin Money

Electric cars

Greener charcoal



Weedy wine

Real estate in '08

Advanced GPS
Read the full stories behind our 8 picks for 2008. (more)
Behind the scenes at the Boston launch of Virgin Money, Richard Branson's new peer-to-peer lending service. (more)
Check out how our past Next Little Thing picks are holding up. (more)