2nd Annual E-List

Fashionmall.com Inc.

Name/age:Ben Narasin, 34
Company/description: Fashionmall.com Inc. is a specialty shopping portal for the fashion and beauty industries.
Based: New York City
1999 sales: Analysts say $3.7 million
2000 projections: Analysts say $6 million

You want to what? Before starting Fashionmall.com in 1994, serial entrepreneur Narasin fulfilled a lifelong passion by starting and designing for a men's sportswear company called Boston Prepatory Co. Narasin's venture flourished during the 10 years he was there, but he foresaw limitations in an era of retail consolidation. "You were either a megabrand or a niche player competing on price," he says. "The Internet seemed to have unlimited upside." But when Narasin pitched Fashionmall.com as a marketing brand to help his own and other designers get publicity via the Net, it was impossible to secure funding because people didn't see the Web site's value.

Hanging by a thread: Starting a business-to-business dotcom with $250,000 (from investors and prior earnings) has its ups and downs. It was iffy when Narasin bluffed calling it quits to get investors to foot the bill for a nearly missed payroll period. ("There was no way in hell I would've shut it down," he says.) But screw-ups are less painful of late: Narasin says he's made his mistakes on the cheap. "I'm lucky we didn't raise a lot of money in the beginning because we would've spent it prematurely," he reasons.

Stitches in time: Increasing traffic from 500,000 "user sessions" last October to 2.5 million in December required dedication. And the site has raked in over $15 million for this year's first quarter. But this candidate for Most Likely Not To Retire would pull all-nighters every weeknight before he'd sacrifice weekends with his wife and two children. Says Narasin, "It's not like I sit in a yoga position and chant all day, but ultimately, you've got to have balance in your life."

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

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