6 of 6
A business built from spare parts
Nathan Seidle
SparkFun Electronics

Back in college, Nathan Seidle was tinkering with an electronics project when one of the components burned out. No big deal - until he discovered how scarce and expensive replacement parts were. "I said, 'Well, shoot, if I'm having trouble getting these components, I'm sure other people are too,'" Seidle explains. So he decided to import cheap, high-quality parts from Bulgaria and sell them from his student apartment.

During winter break from the University of Colorado at Boulder, Seidle maxed out his credit card and built an online store, SparkFun Electronics. Orders rolled in. When shoppers called with delivery questions, Seidle offered to consult his shipping department. "Really, it was me sitting in my bedroom," he laughs. Six years and 47 employees later, Seidle has plenty more company. And SparkFun's annual revenue jumped from $846,881 in 2005 to $4 million in 2007 to nearly $7 million in 2008.

At Maker Faire, Seidle's exhibit drew a large crowd. Some SparkFun engineers were playing a game of Tron on a coffee table equipped with LEDs and joysticks. Others showed off a belt buckle with a tiny accelerometer and an MP3 player that changed songs when they swiveled their hips. "There are so many new toys," Seidle says happily. "And so little time."

More galleries

LAST UPDATE: Feb 12 2009 | 5:42 PM ET
Sponsored by
More Galleries
6 designers shaking up fashion These designers are changing the way we dress, accessorize and shop, from custom made-to-fit dresses to smart jewelry that's actually stylish. More
8 must-have travel apps Whether you've got wanderlust or an airline grievance, here are some apps to pack onto your phone. More
Secrets to success from Smalltown USA Utah State professor Michael Glauser cycled 4,000 miles this summer, visiting 100 entrepreneurs across the country. Here's a snapshot of how they grew their businesses. More

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.