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Dear Prudence . . .

Hot high-tech entrepreneurs

Jason Monberg, 27, and Felicia Lindau, 32, founders of Sparks.com, want to make you (and every other Internet user) the friend/sibling/child/employee/etc. you've always dreamed of being. They might not make world peace happen tomorrow, but since launching their online greeting card superstore last December, it's safe to say these old friends have at least made a dent in the "goodwill to all" effort.

The genesis of Sparks.com is no accident. In fact, it's as easy to calculate as third-grade math: Lindau's dad was a "multiventure" entrepreneur, plus Lindau's 11 years in technology marketing (four of them launching Amazon.com and Excite), divided by the technological wizardry of Monberg, equals enough volition, insider knowledge and intellect to join the ranks of the e-commerce elite.

But Lindau contends that above all, Sparks.com is a consumer retail business. "We're hoping to fuel relationships, and there's nothing technological about that," she says.

Technology, however, is the enabler of the company's bevy of services: search functions so detail-oriented that sifting through the more than 6,000 available greeting cards is effortless; e-mail reminder services so customers never miss a birthday or holiday; same-day shipping; a record of customers' ordering histories; gift certificates from partners like Barnes & Noble--the list goes on.

With so much to maintain, you'd think the company's 15,000-square-foot San Francisco office would be a huge den of stress. OK, so it probably is. But it's an enjoyable place in which to be stressed: Employee "desks" are self-designed sawhorse/door creations, and a huge, whimsical mural brings potential stuffiness down a notch. "It's definitely not time clocks, suits and ties," says Lindau--but the office environment's not so laid-back that goals fall by the wayside, either.

Using independent contractors and 26 full-timers to their utmost potential, CEO Lindau and chief technical officer Monberg aim to build a "100-year brand" and add even more services. Being young and inspired, they want all upgrades to happen in a day's time, but Lindau, who'll only say the company's growing "big, fast," takes it one day at a time. After all, at press time, she was still working on getting thank-you cards to her loved ones following a major holiday. How late was she? The envelope is sealed.

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