Recuperating from corrective eye surgery, Steve Marcum got the idea for SportEYZ, his patented sunglasses.
Sacramento anesthesiologist Steven Marcum got the idea for SportEYZ, his patented sunglasses, when he found himself on the flip side of the doctor-patient relationship. Recuperating from corrective eye surgery in 1996, Marcum was given two pairs of sunglasses by his physician. One was of the clunky, wraparound sort donned by grannies after cataract operations. He found the other pair to be flimsy. Marcum considered both unappealing, but when he tried wearing standard sunglasses, daylight hurt his eyes. So he made his own pair by attaching a piece of UV-blocking window film bought at a hardware store to a piece of transparency paper. A pair of Dr. Scholl's footpads supplied the necessary padding. The contraption sat snugly on his face, providing complete protection while looking suitably stylish. And when he took them off, the "glasses" rolled up for easy storage in a 35-millimeter-film canister that rode in Marcum's pocket.
In 1999, Marcum, who has two patents for the specs and others pending, founded Marcum Industries to distribute his wares. Marcum spends $1.50 to make each pair, which he manufactures overseas. He sells them for a price between $5 and $10, which includes the carrying canister. To date he has sold 1,200 pairs -- primarily to athletes -- through a Web site, catalogs, and small retail stores in the Lake Tahoe and Sacramento areas. "Triathletes like the clear SportEYZ because they provide basic protection from wind and dust when they're running or cycling," Marcum says.
MIKE HOFMAN was previously editor of Inc.com and a deputy editor at Inc. magazine, which he joined in 1996. The site was nominated for a National Magazine Award for Digital Media in 2010, and was named the best business website by Folio Magazine. In 2006, Hofman was part of a team of writers nominated for a Webby Award for best business blog. He lives in New York City. @mikehofman