Companies are stumbling over each other in the race to get on the Web, but many corporate execs are still in the Dark Ages when it comes to high-tech. College students have a tremendous advantage in the computer arena: They get free access to their schools' computer labs--which usually have some of the most up-to-date equipment.
Charles Strader and his two roommates, Richard Skelton and Pablo Mondal, all 21-year-old seniors at Boston University, got wired into entrepreneurship when they were sophomores in 1996. That's when the partners, who worked in the school's computer center, fielded a call from a local hair salon that wanted help launching a Web site. Using their own computers and the computer center's scanners, the trio launched the site--and their own business, Net One--from their off-campus apartment.
"It was great," says Strader. "We were able to use our own computers and shareware graphics programs so our costs were near zero." The site really made the grade, and since then, the Net One crew has worked on about 50 sites for fees ranging from $300 to $35,000. With the addition of a second Web-site design business, Digital Commerce Laboratories, launched in partnership with another local company, the students expect to cash in to the tune of about $83,000 in 1998.