Company/description: International Student Tours (IS Tours) is a brick-and-mortar establishment offering student tours and trips; also included is TripHub.com, a nationwide online student travel company.
Started: 1997; TripHub.com launched 1999
1999 sales: $2.5 million
2000 projections: $4 million
Ticket to ride: For 20 months, Fridgen and Smith's student travel business posted a Web site to assist in marketing their packaged travel tours for high school and college students. Learning that more than 50 percent of their hits came from states in which their products weren't available, the co-founders' focus shifted toward creating TripHub.com, the first nationwide student tour and travel aggregate.
All aboard: Working in the student travel industry while attending the University of Washington, Seattle, the two frat brothers joined their university's Program of Entrepreneurship Innovation in 1996. After a program-sponsored presentation, a Washington Mutual bank representative offered them a $120,000 credit line, and with a combined $50,000 in personal and family-loaned seed money, IS Tours was created.
Growth spurt: With their great ideas and a strong work ethic, Fridgen and Smith not only embraced the advantages of the youth-oriented industry, but also used their own youth as an advantage. "We were students selling student packages," explains Fridgen, "which gave us an edge." That edge made IS Tours' packages look a heck of a lot hipper to their target audience, high school and college jet-setters.
Lemons to lemonade: These traveling newburys didn't always have it so good. Faced with bitter competitors, IS Tours had to overcome hordes of threatening faxes sent to schools, families and establishments attacking them as callow upstarts. Today, IS Tours remains standing, yet the energy focuses on TripHub.com. Holding the largest inventory of Spring Break packages available, TripHub.com allows its members to book everything from a trip home for the holidays to study-abroad programs--all online. "With college students representing over 34 percent of the nation's online population," says Fridgen, "we're going to be the number-one online student travel source."