Paul Lightfoot, 30, appears to have concocted the perfect blend of technology and his passion for restaurants. In 1998, he and co-founder Bob Thomas, 30, came up with the idea for foodline.com as a way to leverage the Internet to make the interaction between restaurants and their customers more efficient. To the consumer, foodline.com is an online restaurant guide where you can make reservations, but it also provides technology solutions to restaurants by giving them Web-based marketing tools and consumer data.
Headquartered in New York City, foodline.com currently serves 23 markets, using partnerships with companies such as CitySearch.com and Zagat.com. "I didn't set out to do something small," Lightfoot says. The company started off with an investment of $250,000 raised from personal savings, as well as family and friends. Subsequent angel and institutional investors have put millions of dollars into the company. "We're the kind of company that has to spend a lot to grow," Lightfoot says.