University of Tampa student Andrew Gilliland, 20, started his company, iSpyPens, from his dorm room with $400 and grew that into a six-figure business with the help of his partner, Josh Hackett, 21, who’s also a UT student.
- University of Tampa student launches spy pen business
- Pen sells for $59.99 has a tiny HD camera in it
“I have a team of right now 8 independent contractor employees. All of them are students here at UT,” said Gilliland. “My dorm is sort of the warehouse.”
The iSpyPen Pro that sells for $59.99 has a tiny hidden HD camera above the clip that’s activated by the button on the top of the pen. It’s also a usable pen. The user can upload video from a USB drive inside the pen that also charges the device.
Gilliland said the covert video surveillance market is experiencing exponential growth.
“After collecting a year’s worth of data, we found that victims of workplace harassment were purchasing the product,” he said. “Private investigators and detectives and then technology enthusiasts.”
Hackett said he was brought on to help grow sales and do all the marketing for the business. The senior UT student said he helped boost sales from $100 per month to $3,000.
“I love eBay, I’m very good at it,” he said. “We’re running Facebook campaigns, we’re on social media. Which is Instagram, twitter, Facebook, touching into Pinterest.”
Hackett said he plans to put all of his energy into iSpyPens once he graduates.
“It’s going to give me more time to dive into this business and then grow myself and iSpyPens as well,” he said. “I want to build this into something bigger.”
Gilliland admits he didn’t invent spy pens but improved on the design.
“We identified three primary areas where there was deficiencies in what the competition was offering,” he said. “That surrounded the camera resolution, the memory size, and the programming of the device.”
iSpyPens sources components from six different companies. Two are located in the United States and the other four are in China. All of the supplies are shipped to the UT post office.
Gilliland’s a junior and said he also plans to graduate and then focus on his company.
“I don’t run this company to make millions of dollars, although I think that will be a byproduct of it,” he said. “I do it because every single day I’m doing what I love.”