Name and age: Jim Luty, 44
Company name and description: Innovative Software Ltd. markets software utilities that allow network administrators to quickly copy and transfer applications from a network server to multiple PCs.
Start-up costs: $6,500
1998 sales: $25 million
Number of employees: 25
Ghost story: As a computer consultant, Luty often spent long hours loading software into each machine of a large network. On a friend's recommendation, he downloaded Ghost from its developer, Binary Research in New Zealand. Impressed, Luty bought 50 copies and canvassed computer outlets for buyers.
Despite its apparent usefulness, retailers found the utility too expensive, so Luty offered shareware demos of Ghost to members of AOL and CompuServe. "The demand was definitely out there," says Luty, a former computer retailer himself.
Luty then created his own Web site and began advertising the site in newsgroups frequented by computer consultants like himself. Once sales picked up, he signed an agreement with Binary Research to be the worldwide marketer of Ghost and opened Innovative Software Ltd., running the business out of his home.