Your old college roommate calls you up with a plan to start a business, so you up and quit your highly respected job, persuade your girlfriend you know what you're doing, pack all your belongings (including a futon) into your Nissan Sentra and drive 3,000 miles to meet up with him. Sounds kinda gutsy, doesn't it? That's exactly what Stuart MacFarlane, 31, did when his Harvard Business School roommate, Hunter Heaney, 30, called to pitch an idea for a teen-focused interactive magazine in which clothes and accessories could be ordered directly off the editorial pages.
"I knew it was fantastic idea," says MacFarlane. "And I realized good ideas don't come along every day."
That good idea formed in Heaney's head when, while shopping for a gift for his girlfriend, a department store clerk recommended a necklace worn by an actress from the popular sitcom Friends. After talking it over with pals' younger sisters, Heaney came to the conclusion that teens really look to entertainment when making decisions about purchases--especially for apparel.
With that in mind, the two business school grads reunited and moved into a "crummy" Hermosa Beach, California, hotel room with no phone and only staunch ambition leading the way. From dawn until dusk, they hogged a sidewalk pay phone, contacting every Harvard connection they knew, and raised $250,000. Moving on to more suitable accommodations, they pieced together a group of freelancers, hired a local Web site development company and started MXG Media Inc. in 1997. Their Web site, http://www.mxgonline.com (formerly http://www.moxiegirl.com), plays off their quarterly "magalog," MXG (formerly Moxie Girl), a fashion, sports and beauty-news interactive magazine that targets Generation Y girls.
Read by more than 3 million teen girls and boasting projected sales of $10 million this year, MXG distinguishes itself by the credible environment it has established through employing more than 20 teens to help edit and write. "We thought that was a more real way to do it," says Heaney. "You know when your dad tries to use the word `cool' and it makes you cringe? We just figured you can't fake it--kids know the difference."