'Inventor of the Year': If You're Not Scared, You Are Doing Something Wrong

Did you ever think an empty box could play your favorite song? With Jason Lucash's invention, music comes thumping out of an empty box.

The Rocket, just one innovative product from his company OrigAudio, turns whatever it is attached to into an actual speaker.

"It's the poor man's surround sound system," he said.

Lucash was named Entrepreneur Magazine’s "Inventor of the Year" in 2012, and the company he started in 2009 with Mike Syzmcak in his garage has seen massive success, growing 300% year over year.

The duo met while working at backpack company Jansport, and traveled often. Lucash said he was inspired to create The Rocket when he couldn’t  to find a pair of headphones that was easy to pack and travel with. The idea dawned upon him after finishing up Chinese lo-mein.

"I thought, 'speakers should just pop-up, like a Chinese food box,'" Lucash said. "It was made with all recycled material. We saw a niche in the market and bootstrapped it."

The shoe-string budget paid off-- big time. OrigAudio was named one of TIME Magazine's 50 Best Inventions in 2009, the same year its founders quit their full-time jobs. Since then, the company has grown to 14 employees and is expected to surpass $5 million in sales this year, Lucash said.

He even appeared on ABC’s "Shark Tank" when the company was valued at $1 million in 2011, but wound up turning down the cash. The exposure, and $150,000 investment offer didn't hurt though.

"It's been crazy," Lucash said of the company's growth in the past two years. "We got this award from the biggest publication for entrepreneurship-- I feel like I won 'Best Actor' at the Academy Awards."

Lucash said the company has gone on a hiring frenzy in the past year, and has focused on custom creations, making headphones "on demand" as ordered. This virtual inventory puts OrigAudio in the big leagues, against giants like "Beatz by Dre," which retail at about $300 a pop. OrigAudio's headphones, which are custom printed with the design of your choice, go for nearly $60.

"From a business standpoint, we are writing software and developing printers-- we can just bring in blank product. And for the retailers, you don't have to hold any stock. It's a win-win."

It didn't hurt that the 2012 U.S. Olympic Swim Team all donned OrigAudio headphones at the Beijing games last year either. Ryan Lochte, Michael Phelps and more all wore the gear he designed and created, bearing the Nike logo. But even that kind of publicity doesn't promise success for tomorrow, Lucash said.

"I am fearful, of course," he said. "If you're not scared you are doing something wrong with your business. We are keeping our enemies closer. It's hard to be in a huge sector, but if we stick to what we are good at, we will be successful."