During his senior year at George Washington University, Stef-an Triandafilou needed some extra cash. Forgoing the usual, and perhaps easier, route of getting a job, he instead founded a small cleaning service-using a mere $250 (the cost of two vacuums). Soon after start-up, he recruited college soccer teammate Andrew Drykerman as his partner. What started out as a vehicle for making a few extra bucks quickly grew into Bethesda, Maryland-based Marathon Cleaning, a 50-employee commercial and construction cleaning company with annual sales of $2 million.
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In 1999, hot on the heels of Marathon Cleaning's success, Triandafilou and Drykerman (27 and 24, respectively) turned their youthful vigor toward the residential market, creating the pressure washing franchise Earth-Clean.com. In addition to commercial and construction work, Earth-Clean.com franchisees service the decks, siding, gutters and awnings of residential homes and commercial real estate. The ".com" of the company's name translates into online scheduling, billing and collecting.
Although traditional over-the-phone transactions are still the norm, Triandafilou says young people are creating a new standard within companies and encouraging the use of technology by upper management. Indeed, smart use of the Internet may just wash away any doubts of future success in this business.