CRESTVIEW — Pat Palmer believes anyone with passion can follow his or her dreams toward a successful career.
He should know; Spy Chest, the company he built on a shoestring budget and chance 13 years ago, reportedly is worth $8 million.
Palmer started the business — which sells surveillance equipment to government agencies and consumer markets in the U.S. and overseas — with next to nothing.
"Around (the year) 2000, I was gifted $100 for my birthday," he said. It was the only money he had at the time, but he fed it to a casino slot machine in Biloxi, Miss.
"I hit a jackpot for just a smidge over $3,600," Palmer said. "This was like a pot of gold to me."
He invested $3,000 to develop the business, which included ordering materials and creating a website, www.spytechs.com.
Two years later, he profited from selling devices that monitor children and senior citizens while loved ones are away.
These days, the company — with four full-time employees and one part-time staffer — is launching Drive Proof, which adds surveillance on the inside, front and back of vehicles.
In addition to protecting from insurance fraud, theft and road rage, Drive Proof can give parents peace of mind when teenagers are behind the wheel, Palmer said.
"It provides you the information in the form of video, audio, GPS ... that is impartial," he said.
As for the future, Palmer said the company plans to expand and add more jobs.
And for those with similar dreams of owning their own business, Palmer said there is no time like the present.
"Anybody that has a keen interest or a business idea that they have a passion for, then I believe they can make that business their passion," he said.
"If you have a dream, follow it."
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Matthew Brown at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbMatthew.