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SMU Grad is a "Rising Star"

     In its April issue, Entrepreneur magazine found out something we already knew: Recent SMU grad Bill Darnell ("Ten Intriguing Start-Ups." Business Dallas, September/October '98) is a "Rising Star."

     The article attributes to Darnell "the courage of a lion, the tenacity of a beaver, [and] the cunning of a wolf" in carving out what so far is a $250,000 niche in the watch business. And what's really taking off is his line of Zoobee children's watches that feature nature photographer Art Wolfe's images on their faces. Sales of the $39.95 watches are doing so well, he's changed the name of his company to Zoobee, Inc. from Safari Watch Inc.

     We caught up with the enthusiastic 24-year-old recently, and he was simply bubbling. That's because he has chalked up some pretty impressive successes in the past several months.

  • A second round of financing came through in April that will allow him to expand his Zoobee line of children's watches, enter new markets (possibly overseas), and hire a few people to help him.
  • The product line is now established in the Endangered Species chain of retail stores, REI outdoor stores in the Northwest, and beginning this summer, at stores in Disney's Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Fla.
  • And he sold 200 watches in just in an hour and a half on the Nashville-based Shop-at-Home Network.
  •      Darnell is also giving back. One percent of sales goes to the Wildlife Conservation Society.