By Brandon Dudley
"I'm big on (entrepreneurship)," said Poole, a Towson University computer science major. "I've done that since I was real little, lemonade stands, stuff like that."
Poole sells custom shift boot covers - material which covers the manual and automatic stick shifts - and decorative L.E.D. light kits.
Light emitting diodes shine when exposed to an electric current.
They can be placed virtually anywhere in the car where there is access to electric power, he said. Places can include under the seats or in dashboards, air vents and other places to give the car a colorful glow.
The products generally appeal to young men like Poole, who enjoy modifying their vehicles. Poole himself has both products in his car.
"I like the satisfaction when you finish and the look of it and what other people think about it," he said.
"It's an accomplishment that you can make it look a little better," he said.
Poole, who works as an assistant at the property management firm DRS Sumner Companies in Catonsville, buys the materials and makes both products by hand, he said.
He hand-sews the shift boot covers, which he sells from $4.99 to $9.99 on eBay, the Internet auction site.
"I pretty much picked (sewing) up on my own," he said. "It wasn't anything too complicated."
The L.E.D. kits are a difficult item to find, he said.
"It's hard to find in any store around here, especially at a decent price," he said. "I tried to make it and realized I could make them pretty easily and inexpensively."
His girlfriend helps with the business by handling bookkeeping and other administrative work and occasionally helps assemble the products, he said.
The L.E.D. kits, which can also be put on motorcycles, boats and radio-controlled cars, sell for $9.99.
He's managed to pull in about $350 in sales over the past month, he said, selling mainly on eBay.
According to his eBay store, Poole has sold 140 units so far.
Using eBay has made things very easy for his business, Poole said.
Poole simply links to his eBay store from his Web site. People can then either access it through his site or can find him directly on eBay.
"It's a really simple, easy-to-use tool and it definitely gets you out there," he said. "There's billions of people that are on there every day. It's instant advertising and it's right there at everyone's fingertips.
"It's low maintenance because of the whole e-commerce part and the whole payment process is all simplified," he said.
Poole has plans for more advertising.
He is working on getting screen-printed T-shirts made, and he currently has a vinyl window banner in his rear window.
He hopes to distribute more of those, too, he said.
He also made fliers to pass out around the area, advertised on the popular classifieds Web site www.craigslist.com and marketed to car enthusiast groups on the social networking site www.myspace.com.
Poole says he's learned a lot from the business so far about e-commerce, dealing with customers nationwide and how to create a shipping process.
He hopes to expand his business by finding stores in the area to stock his products and he's looking into new products that he can create.
"Maybe emergency brake boots, which would go along with the shift boots," he said.
Though he hopes to keep the business going as long as possible, Poole says he will eventually try another.
"I know I will try some other business venture," he said, predicting that he will probably go into real estate, renting properties or renovating and selling them.