PHOENIX (FOX 10) - How many hats do you have sitting around your house? Do you need a place to display all of them? Arizona-based company HAT-TAC can help you out.
Arizona State University student Domenic Fotino will be thanking his professor for years due to an assignment that turned him into an entrepreneur.
"It was a class project in August of 2017," said Fotino, co-owner and CEO of HAT-TAC. "It was due at midnight. It's about 11:59 p.m. and I'm just searching for something to post. So I walk into my room and see all my hats on thumb tacks on nails."
Looking for someplace better to hang his hat, he came up with HAT-TAC. And someone classmates jumped on board with the idea.
"We started making a curved piece of plastic to keep up that shape of our hat," one student said. "And about six months into the class we finalized a prototype and people were like, 'I would actually buy this thing, you should go to market.'"
And they did - with some help. They pitched the product to a panel of judges and won $9,500. Then Phoenix-based company Hat Club heard their story.
"They said we're going to support you guys as well," Fotino said. "We're going to put you in 23 stores nationwide."
Today, HAT-TAC sells online and through Amazon, currently shipping to 11 different countries.
Fotino says social media has been a gamechanger. He messaged D-backs star Luis Gonzales about the product and Gonzales was eager to give HAT-TAC a try. He shared it with his followers on Instagram.
"The logo is our product," Fotino said. "So the top of the logo resembles the curve of our product."
They hope to start selling these unique hat hangers to little league teams in the future. So at the end of the season, kids will have a trophy, a jersey, and place to put their hat.
With a clear focus, goals in mind, and the willingness to work hard, the sky is the limit. The guys behind this Arizona-based startup are proof of that.
"This thing is going to make a decent amount of money," Fotino said. "But it's really just going to open the door for us as entrepreneurs to get in with people that will respect us as young business people in the community."