UT student enjoys early business success with hidden camera pen

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Although the University of Tampa says they are "proud" of the success junior business information technology major Andrew Gilliland has had, administrators say he isn't allowed to run the business out of his dorm room.

Gilliland has sold thousands of "spy pens" -- pens equipped with cameras and microphones -- and made hundreds of thousands of dollars from people all over the world.

He worked with a developer to make a prototype hidden camera pen and then sourced the parts.  Once those parts make it to his dorm, they’re assembled right there on campus and sold to people in all 50 states, plus 20 countries. 


His dorm room has normal college student things like laundry and homework, but it's also filled with hundreds of boxes.

His company is called ISpyPens. They record HD video and sound. 

"We are operating at capacity," he said. "We just simply can't produce enough."

Gilliland started ISpyPens in August of 2016 after watching the surveillance industry boom.  At first, he marketed prototypes from China and sold 400 to 500 in the first five months.

"There are other sellers of video surveillance pens," he said. "But nobody is doing it like we are doing it."

Then he designed his own, with easier-to-download video, one-click record, and a lens the size of a pen tip. It holds six hours of video. 

At up to $70 each, he has shipped 6,000 of them, taking in about $150,000.

"I just enjoy taking risks," he said. "I need to constantly be under the pressure of real-world business."

He believes current events have fueled his business.

"We are entering an environment in our society where people are always going to want to monitor what we are doing. We work with a lot of people who are being discriminated or harassed at work."

Gilliland says there is a large team of people at UT who help produce, market, and ship the product.

A school spokesman says administrators are proud of the success he has achieved. But ultimately he's in violation of the school's policy against using a dorm room for business.

"Every single day is another setback I face," Gilliland said.

He agrees he's in violation, though, and says he is going to move his inventory out by the end of the weekend.