2nd Annual Hot List

Matt Britton, 25, and Michael Cohen, 23

Company/description: The Magma Group Inc. is a marketing firm focusing on e-mail marketing to college students.

Based: Boston

Started: 1996

1999 sales: $1 million-plus

2000 projections: $2.5 million-plus

Go team, go: Magma's Team Magma program employs more than 6,000 student organizations at 400 campuses nationwide to sign up students to receive e-mail marketing messages from Magma's clients. Student organizations receive cash for each sign-up. Magma also uses event marketing at spring break party spots to provide information and give away goodies for clients.

Heads of the class: Britton and Cohen began their entrepreneurial careers by promoting concerts and festivals, but they found their niche when large companies asked to sponsor the student events. "The fact that companies were coming to us when they had all these traditional media outlets showed us those outlets weren't working," says Britton. "We saw there was a huge opportunity to serve Internet companies because it leveled the playing field with our competitors who hadn't tapped into that marketplace yet in terms of pitching Internet companies. But we knew that since the college market is so Internet-savvy, it's definitely a market that Internet companies would want to reach."

Prodigious advantage: Starting the company while Cohen was still attending Boston University and Britton having recently graduated had its advantages and disadvantages. While Cohen juggled studies and CEO duties, both partners juggled the difficulties of being young while competing with established companies. "We were lucky because it was easy for us to portray ourselves as close to the market we were reaching," says Britton.

Econ 101: Britton and Cohen started Magma sans funds by working out of Cohen's bedroom and funneling all profits back into the company--a practice they still abide by. "We take barely enough money to live on," says Britton. "Every dollar in terms of income that comes into the company goes right back into building it." Still, Britton says, one of their biggest challenges is "growing faster than the dollar and cents allow you to." To make up for the gap between big plans and small working capital, the partners are looking into several options, including venture capital investments and acquisition or private investment from industry majors.

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This article was originally published in the April 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: 2nd Annual Hot List.

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