October 17th, 2011
03:39 AM GMT
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New York (CNN) – Can Apple make you rich? That is what John Vons hopes.

An architect by professional, Vons was laid off three years ago. Frustrated and running out of options Vons decided he needed to reinvent himself.  Inspired by the design and popularity of Apple's products, Vons created an iPhone accessory he calls the yofo.  It is a small suction device that allows you to cradle the iphone on your shoulder or stick it on a surface to more easily watch content.

As he and his partner, Genie, made the rounds to secure funding, the feedback was good, but would-be backers shied away due to the shaky economy.   A friend finally came up with enough to pay for the first batch, but there is little left over for marketing.

Which is how I met John.  He decided to come up to New York for the launch of the Apple iPhone 4S.  All morning he walked the line of customers giving demonstrations and handing out cards for their website yofo.com  You could tell by watching him that he was not entirely in his comfort zone as marketer.

"I am usually a quiet, reserved guy who sits and designs on his own,” Vons said.

But Vons knows he doesn't have a choice.  He’s  made 10,000 of these gadgets with the hope – and the prayer – that they sell.

A few people he approached on line backed away suspiciously (hey this is New York!) but generally people were receptive.  Even if they don't ultimately buy the product, I think people admire the courage and sacrifice it takes to try and claw out of the ranks of the long-term unemployed.

And there is sacrifice.  To conserve cash, John and Genie say they had to give up their New York apartments and moved in with her parents in Alabama.  They live over the family's funeral home and John smiles as he explains how he helps Genie's Dad drive the hearse and "move the dead people around.”

Is the yofo going to make John Vons rich?  Ten years ago the answer would have been no.  But the power of the internet is a game changer.  Yofo has no retail presence and no marketing budget but it does have a website and these days that is all you really need to get started.

The other powerful force at work is the huge economy that now swirls around Apple products.  From apps to accessories to doctors who fix busted phones, entrepreneurs are figuring out a way to tap into Apple's cool.

If Vons succeeds in grabbing only a slice of the millions of customers who will purchase an iPhones 4S,  he will be on his way to a new course for his life.

Though I don't know him personally, watching him work the New York lines of customers for the new iPhone 4S, I can't help but wish him well.

soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Tonyd

    Such a shame the writer couldn't get the most important thing right, the web address the business!!! It's actually yofo.com not theyofo.com! This mistake could be very costly for this brave man.

    October 17, 2011 at 4:07 am |
  2. Davis

    Worst invention ever, who will pay 19.99 for this kind of thing.Its not really worth to buy it.Its just look like car GPS holder.And where people gonna put it, they can’t stick it on the phone all the time and pocket are not big enough to fit both. Now days people are coming with stupid ideas and News media like cnn are advertising it, coz they just need a news

    October 17, 2011 at 5:56 am |
  3. Wilson

    There's a typo at the end...I think it should probably be iPhone 4S not iPhone 42 :)

    October 17, 2011 at 7:24 am |
  4. nick


    October 17, 2011 at 11:58 am |
  5. bill

    a yoyo for your shoulder....hahahaha,I love the contraption,errrr invention....when you're outta job,crazy things go through your mind....

    October 17, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
  6. Jeremy

    Err.. I hope they realize using the Fallout Vault Boy character on their box is probably copyright infringement..

    October 17, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
  7. Crookkk

    That's why people using head set or blue tooth ! Geezz ! Go get some hair cut dude !

    October 17, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
  8. Rex

    I live in Seoul, they have those everywhere and they look way cooler here. Oh yea and they aren't 20 bucks either. So some guy is selling some gimicky product on the street and this article gets a front page placement on the CNN site? Sheesh...

    October 18, 2011 at 1:03 am |
  9. J. Preston

    Seems like a good idea, but all the 'u's and 'ur's and other shothands put me off.

    October 18, 2011 at 1:30 am |
  10. Lynn

    There must be a lot of out-of-work editors somewhere, nothing gets proofread anymore. An architect by professional. Mistakes should not be so glaring at the very beginning of an article.

    October 18, 2011 at 7:04 am |
  11. Anthony

    By law an individual who owns an Architect License in the State can call himself Architect, if not he is a designer

    October 18, 2011 at 11:17 pm |
  12. CR

    Er....think hes going down...would you actually use this?

    October 24, 2011 at 1:18 am |

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