My Biz: MagnoGrip

According to a story in BusinessWeek, Andre Woolery had already done a lot–starting an IT company, opening a Caribbean restaurant, and enrolling at Stanford University’s business school–before he started MagnoGrip in Menlo Park, Calif.

Woolery, 32, who was born and raised in Jamaica, got the idea for his latest venture in 2005 after he helped his brother-in-law, a makeup artist, design a wristband to hold his brushes.

Woolery noticed he was always dropping stuff when he worked on house projects, and started thinking of a product that could similarly keep tools easily accessible. His answer: a nylon tool belt lined with magnet pockets.

With $5,000 of his own and $40,000 from his parents and friends, he hired product designers from Stanford to snazz it up. Another Stanford alum introduced Woolery to a manufacturer in Shenzhen, China, who agreed to make the product.

After getting his MBA in 2006, he then traveled all over the San Francisco Bay Area to persuade hardware merchants to carry the MagnoGrip. Today, some 300 stores, including units of Ace Hardware and TrueValue, stock the line, accounting for 40% of sales, with the rest coming via the Internet.

Photo by BusinessWeek.

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