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In the Spotlight

While lying on the beach, many of us have thought about drinking a nice, cold beer, but most haven't gone as far as starting a beer company. That's where Rhonda Kallman is different.

The 46-year-old former senior executive with the Boston Beer Company developed the concept for New Century Brewing Co. while vacationing in the Caribbean. Now, the company makes and markets two innovative American beers: Moonshot, a premium caffeinated beer, and Edison, a specially brewed light beer.

Limited resources have put the company's online marketing on the back burner, so when Kallman learned of the Entrepreneur and Caffeine Marketing Jolt contest, she decided to enter. "The word caffeine caught my eye, because we have the original premium beer with caffeine," she says. "And I knew I could use a marketing makeover."

Kallman was chosen from over 260 entrants to receive the top prize of more than $20,000 worth of services and products. These include six months of online promotional support from Caffeine; an e-mail marketing package; a search engine optimization marketing package from Awecomm Web Strategies; up to 30 hours of private consultation time with Caffeine's experts; graphic design services to update her company's logo; a one-year subscription to Entrepreneur; and a selection of books from Entrepreneur Press.

The Caffeine Promotions Platform is a web-based promotion-builder designed for small and midsize businesses. Hosted by ePrize, an online promotional company, the tool allows small businesses to set up their own sweepstakes or coupon promotional campaign in minutes using the same platform that national and international marketers use, says Josh Linkner, founder and CEO. "We started the contest because we wanted to reward small businesses that are willing to put themselves out there with interactive marketing technology," he says.

Preliminary judging was completed by the ePrize marketing team. Guest judges Ana Rincon, an online business guide for About.com, and Brent Leary, technology editor for Technology For Business $ake radio show and a columnist for BlackEnterprise.com, chose the five finalists. The winner was chosen by Rieva Lesonsky, editorial director of Entrepreneur Media Inc., based on originality, business criteria and entrepreneurial spirit.

Kallman is thrilled about the opportunity to overcome some of the challenges of creating demand for her product. Since industry regulations keep Kallman from shipping her products, setting up a traditional e-commerce operation isn't an option. Linkner suggests Kallman build on the momentum of Edison's distribution in Trader Joe's stores to get into additional stores. Linkner believes his company can help New Century Brewing use e-mail and other online tools to build relationships with customers and foster brand loyalty. As for Kallman, she says she'll use the six months of services to work with Caffeine's team of professionals and pick their brains.

Gwen Moran is a freelance writer and co-author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Business Plans (Alpha, 2010).

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This article was originally published in the December 2007 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: In the Spotlight.

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