2nd Annual E-List

WebSurfer Inc.

Name/age: Paul Batra, 27
Company/description: WebSurfer Inc. manufactures Internet-related software.
Based: Markham, Ontario
Sales: As owner of several software companies, Batra reportedly pulls in $50 million annually.

Major appliances: In 1997, Batra saw the quick growth of the Net and wanted a piece of the action, deciding Internet appliances were the way to go. The hard part was getting the word out-not many folks knew what Internet appliances were. And WebSurfer had to get past the stigma that computers held. "[At the time] a lot of people had a fear of PCs and felt [they were] too complicated," says Batra.

It came to me in the middle of the night: Ever wanted to surf the Net without turning on that pesky computer and sifting through programs you really don't need? Batra did. And he saw the profit he could rake in if he came up with a way to get fast, easy Internet access to John Q. Public. Now in cahoots with Earthlink, WebSurfer, which employs the only device of its kind that uses Intel technology, provides easy Net access to the masses.

Old softie (sort of): The success of the WebSurfer hardware (a small box that sits on top of the TV called Innovator WebSurfer Pro) has made it possible to introduce more and more software into the marketplace. Says Batra, "We're really becoming a pure software company." WebSurfer plans to go public next year and hopes to become a major player in broadband Internet software. To all you aspiring Internet players out there, Batra offers one piece of advice: "Go out there and pick a unique twist to the business. Dominate in one focused area."

A recent survey of netpreneurs found . . .

  • 69% of respondents say their e-businesses are profitable.
  • Almost half of respondents don't plan to go public.
  • Most netpreneurs plan on starting an average of five online businesses in their lifetimes.
  • 67% see themselves as pioneers on the Net.
  • More than a quarter say they would have gone into corporate life if it weren't for the Internet (eek!).
Source: Ernst & Young LLP survey of 150 Net company founders
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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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