The "aha" moment: After passing around his iPad during a conference last April, Chicago entrepreneur Todd Gabel, who had recently sold his IT company, Nexum, noticed the gadget's screen was covered in fingerprints. That night, he searched for touchscreen cleaning cloths online, but they were all drab. He decided to create his own stylish solution.
R&D: Gabel began collecting colorful swatches from fabric shops; a store display of eye-catching umbrellas provided inspiration. In June, he packed up the swatches, headed to China, and found a manufacturer to produce 50,000 cloths made of antimicrobial microfiber in eight colorful patterns. He dubbed his creation the Toddy.
Hitting the market: Since September, Gabel has sold 35,000 cloths for $14.95 each on his website, ToddyGear.com; on Amazon; and at several national retailers, including Verizon stores. He recently opened a factory in China to make the cloths.