Brad LeBlanc first discovered ACE America's Cash Express(Entrepreneur's No. 1 new franchise for 2001) while studying finance at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. After seeing an ACE location on nearly every corner in the Metroplex area, LeBlanc decided to give the check-cashing company a call.

"I didn't have any idea they were franchising-I just wanted to get a little information on the company," he says. "When I found out they were franchising, I went up to the [corporate office] and talked to them."

LeBlanc didn't know ACE would become such a success, but after that first meeting, he did know he had discovered the perfect opportunity for someone like him, a finance major who didn't want to go into investment banking or consulting. By becoming a franchisee, LeBlanc could use his financing expertise and run his own business.

LeBlanc opened his first store in Monroe, Louisiana, in June 1997 and has since added two locations-a second store in Monroe and a third location in Ruston, Louisiana. LeBlanc also has exclusive rights to Northeastern Louisiana and plans to open additional ACE branches in the next two years.

Because the system was only a year old when he first joined, LeBlanc, 27, has found himself in somewhat of an advisory role. "I've kind of grown with the company, as far as a lot of the computer and system problems we have. I work closely with everyone to try to solve some of these problems," he explains.

LeBlanc also speaks with prospective franchisees, telling them about his experiences with ACE. "Some of them buy, some of them don't," he says. "Either way, I've been more than willing to talk to people to help them out."