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

Jetpacks

Wi-Fly

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)
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Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.