Been toying with an idea that's a bit experimental and a tad risky--but perfect for a 21st-century Internet venture? Thomas Edwards and Carla Cole, owners of Webcasting company The Sync (http://www.thesync.com), say an immediately profitable start-up is key. After establishing credibility, you can spread your wings, change course and fly (along with angel investors more willing to back you).
"The risk is low [if you're] Internet-experienced. If your company goes under, you [can always] go back to your safe, $60,000-a-year job," says Edwards, 29.
Fortunately, Edwards and his life/business partner, Cole, 24, haven't had to look back since starting The Sync in July 1997 with $10,000 in cashed-in stock options from Edwards' old ISP job. To get some cash flowing, the company did production jobs, putting a variety of live events online for clients, including Capitol Hill officials. Eventually, Edwards and Cole stepped up to producing original content.
Since then, the pair's been making history. Last March, the Laurel, Maryland, company became the first to present a contemporary feature film for Internet viewing. Last summer, it produced and released the first public service announcement made for the Net. A slew of original programming is at the core of The Sync's success, including "The Jenni Show," hosted by Jennifer Ringley of JenniCAM fame; and "Meeks Unfiltered," a review of techno-politics led by MSNBC journalist Brock Meeks. "The Sync Online Film Festival" presents original short films in a variety of genres 24 hours a day.
Hush-hush about sales, The Sync profits from advertising. (There's no charge to view programming.) Offering video ads, or online commercials, only adds fuel. Right now, Edwards and Cole, the only full-time employees, are expanding their sales staff, but foresee a buyout in a year or so. Says Edwards, "As Internet video content becomes more important to a bigger market, I think a lot of traditional media companies or large Internet portals will try to utilize us instead of trying to develop their own programs."
PLP Digital Systems, (800) 444-PLOT, http://www.plp.com
The Sync, http://www.thesync.com