Harry Nelson & Jesse Raben
Not many people get to meld entrepreneurship with social consciousness. But Harry Nelson, 32, and Jesse Raben, 34, have done just that with AllThingsJewish.com (ATJ). Far from being only an e-commerce site, ATJ is a forum for the Jewish community, providing an online store, a library, an e-zine (called Tribe) and a Judaica gift registry.
The former lawyers launched ATJ last year when they saw the vast potential of the Internet. Nelson and Raben's biggest start-up hurdle was choosing a Web design firm to create an interesting and functional Web site (costing them in the low six figures). Working from their homes in two different cities (Nelson is in Chicago, Raben in Washington, DC), the two constantly monitor the site and the 1,000-plus products they sell-many of which come from Nelson's mother, who runs a brick-and-mortar Judaica gallery. From chuppahs (wedding canopies) to software designed to teach children Hebrew, ATJ products are in high demand.
The partners also sponsor their Tzedakah Program, in which they partner with nonprofit Jewish organizations to give back to the community. The most satisfying aspect? Notes Raben: "[We're] giving to Jewish organizations. We're making a difference in the Jewish community."