Entrepreneur: Laurie Davis, former Fortune 500 marketing consultant and founder of eFlirt Expert, a coaching service for online daters.
"Aha" Moment: One of her marketing clients got burned in the Madoff financial scandal, and Davis saw the writing on the wall. Then it hit her: Online dating was the same thing as a personal branding campaign. "The skills I had built up about key messages and target audiences and e-mail conversion rates were perfect for this," she says.
What Possessed Her: An early adopter of online dating, Davis has been facilitating matches and makeovers since she uploaded her first profile in 2000. "One of my friends is even getting ready to buy a ring," she says. "I love to help make a match, and I realized not a lot of help for online daters existed."
Startup: In spring 2009, Davis bought a domain and template website from Go Daddy and set up a credit card account for the business. "I came up with the concept, and in 48 hours I published the site and was ready to go," she says.
Customers: People who want to make a better virtual first impression. Usually, they're Internet-savvy--about 40 percent of the client base finds eFlirt Expert through Davis' social media campaigns.
Relationship Payoff: The ex was a naysayer, so Davis ditched him shortly before meeting her current love interest, who's also a dating coach. "He's fabulous and the love of my life," she says. (They met on Twitter.)
Payoff: Revenue grew 459 percent in the first three quarters of 2010, even before the holiday season kicked off.
Sample Services: Unlimited dating advice by e-mail ($49 per month); wing woman ($149 for two hours); profile from scratch ($149).
Next Up: Davis is hiring more "eFlirters," opening offices across the country, launching a new web platform and working on a book proposal and reality show deal.