Got Net?

Finding Your Niche

With so many major players in the field, it can be a tricky business for start-ups to break in . . . unless you can find a specialty market and offer your customers a little something extra. Just ask 37-year-old Philip Kaskawits, co-founder of, a New York City-based site that enables students to find and compare prices for college textbooks. Unlike many other shopping search services, Textbookhound. com's custom designed search engine allows students to enter and search for multiple books at one time. Kaskawits and his partner, Eric Borgos, plan to work with schools to allow professors to list their curricula on the site, further simplifying students' textbook searches.

Much of's sales come from affiliate sales: Amazon or Barnes & Noble will pay the company a percentage of sales that come through their sites. Kaskawits says that, unlike many other comparison shopping sites, doesn't list stores in order of which ones give the company the best return, but according to the lowest price for the customer. "We try to be different that way," he says. "You don't have to think of the next best thing. Take something that's out there, pick your niche, and do a better job than anyone else."

Julie Vallone is a San Francisco Bay area writer. Her work has been featured in a variety of publications, including Entrepreneur's Start-Ups, Investor's Business Daily and

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This article was originally published in the September 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Got Net?.

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