"It was kind of in a remote (spot), so we came up with a small solar unit to power things," said Asper. "It fit in a suitcase. . . . A lot of people really liked it, and we decided to try to make it into a company."
The pair founded Perigee Power Solutions, selling portable solar power generators, in 2010, and the company has seen a lot of success with people looking for affordable, alternative power solutions, Asper said.
Tuesday, Perigee got one more reason to celebrate.
The Hampstead Md.-based business was named one of the five winners of Staples' "Give Your Small Business a Push" contest, in which small businesses from across the country submitted videos for a chance to win $50,000 in prizes.
"I'm really excited. I think it will really help our business," said Asper, a 1992 graduate of New Oxford High School.
The 15-second video depicts Asper during a fake thunderstorm powering light bulbs with one of the company's generators.
During the first round of the contest, users voted for their favorite videos from among the hundreds of entrants. The top 10 videos moved into the next round, where a committee from Staples selected the top five, Asper said.
The winners could choose from either $50,000 worth of advertising or $40,000 worth of advertising and $10,000 in cash. Asper said Perigee selected the second option and will use the cash to pay off taxes associated with the prize.
In a news release about the contest, Staples said it wanted to give small businesses the opportunity for a large-scale marketing campaign.
"We know that investing in marketing to grow a small business is essential, yet many do not have the money to do so," John Giusti, vice president of small-business marketing at Staples, said in the release.
The win has yet to sink in for Asper, who said he is focusing on preparing for the future.
"I'm just trying to get some stuff organized here, so that if we do need to ramp up production, we can," he said.
Here are the winners of the Staples' "Give Your Small Business a Push" contest:
--- Perigee Power Solutions, Hampstead, Md.
--- Wire A Cake Bakery, Huntington Beach, Calif.
--- The Crimson Poppy, Stillwater, Okla.
--- Outta the Box Mktg, Fairfield, N.J.
--- Peekaboo Design Group, Dallas, Texas
To view the winning videos, go to apps.facebook.com/smallbusinesspush.