Waking Up And Seizing Opportunity


JONATHON NOSTRANT, 22, founder, Moshi Lifestyle, Woodland Hills

Business: Voice-controlled alarm clocks

Employees: 7

Financials: $2.6 million in 2009 revenue; profitable

Jonathon Nostrant doesn’t owe his success to a sudden flash of inspiration. The way he sees things, it was all about hard work and seizing opportunities.

The 22-year-old founder of Moshi Lifestyle was a senior in USC’s entrepreneurial studies program when he wrote up an award-winning proposal based on selling an interactive talking alarm clock.

“It wasn’t something that struck me in a bathtub or the shower or while going to sleep,” said Nostrant from a hotel in Hong Kong, where he was meeting with developers of voice-control technology to keep up to date on products. “It was recognizing the opportunity, and trying to take it from one product hit to a business.”

The Moshi Voice Control Alarm Clock can be operated without pushing a button. Users can set the time and alarm with voice commands, or they can ask the clock to call out the time. Nostrant launched the product, which he claims to be the first of its kind, in November 2008 – six months before he graduated from college.

“It sucked,” he said. “I had to go to China on my spring break and missed Cabo.”

Nostrant’s father, who makes plush items, children’s bath products and home furnishings for a living, helped with financing and finding contacts for distribution, and by April 2009 the clock was picked up by outlets including Brookstone and Bed Bath & Beyond.

“If you realize there’s a way to create and identify a niche and then you recognize that you know other people in your life that can somehow help you with different services to fulfill that niche, you’re an entrepreneur,” he said.

Nostrant doesn’t foresee going to work for someone else.

“When you’re an entrepreneur, you start to recognize how the pieces of the puzzle are put together,” Nostrant said. “You realize you really only fail when you give up.”

The talking alarm clock maker believes that time – and timing – is on his side.

“People are starting to invest now,” Nostrant said. “All Cisco was doing in 2009 was buying companies because everything was valued so low. People were just trying to survive instead of start things. In our case we were able to gain a competitive advantage in the market because people were holding on to what they had instead of looking into new niches and new opportunities.”

Nostrant also sells a voice-controlled travel alarm clock, and he is planning to launch two more products in the coming months: a version with a radio he describes as a “jacked-up version of the first one,” and a voice-controlled Bluetooth car kit that allows for hands-free cell phone use.

“We’re building up the brand to be known as voice control technology,” he said.

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