You have to start-up something after you graduate from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles' entrepreneur program, right? But Dennis D'Alessio went for uncharted territory, pursuing his idea for the Online Yellow Pages at a time when only techies touched the Internet and venture capitalists weren't yet scouring the Silicon Valley.
"Nobody wanted to give us money," says D'Alessio. So instead he worked for a traditional Yellow Pages company to learn the mechanics and later acquired its marine division, which publishes the United Yellow Pages Boating Directory, founding what is now known as Superior Business Network Inc. in 1994. Three years later, D'Alessio's brain-child became a reality when the Online Yellow Pages (www.sbn.com) went live.
The mammoth growth D'Alessio's Newport Beach, California, company is enjoying is the risk-taker's reward. With 50 million businesses listed on sbn.com, 1,500 affiliates-from Amazon.com to virtual unknowns-paying linkage commissions, and about 500 ISPs utilizing the site's user-friendly Yellow Pages, D'Alessio's $50,000 start-up is now seeing sales climb well into the millions.