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Power Play

Strategies for creating products that dominate the marketplace

Russ Leatherman had a great idea. Frustrated by calling movie theaters for show times only to get a busy signal, Leatherman conceived of an interactive telephone movie guide. The caller would have access to a complete listing of theaters and show times in his or her area, and could even pre-purchase tickets.

In 1989, while developing the concept from their base in Los Angeles, Leatherman and his partners, Douglas Hoitenga and Rob Gukeisen, met up with Andrew Jarecki and Adam Slutsky, who were working on a similar idea in New York. The five men became a team, and today MovieFone, as the partners dubbed the concept, handles calls from up to 2.5 million moviegoers per week in 28 cities across the country.

Theirs is the story of a company using existing technology and consumer demand to create a new invention, then using proactive strategies to block the competition and dominate the market. Read on . . . there are plenty of lessons to be learned.

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This article was originally published in the March 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Power Play.

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