Company:Stock Exposure Inc., a San Luis
Obispo, California, online IR/PR (investor relations/public
relations) firm specializing in promotion of publicly traded
2000 sales: $2 million
2001 projections: $2 million-plus
As the son of missionaries in Brazil, Lemos wasn't your typical American teenager. "I've always been an entrepreneur," he says. "I had a lot of plans-trying to figure out products that were cheaper in Brazil but more expensive in the United States. When I moved to the U.S., a friend and I even tried selling auctioned used cars."
Luckily for Lemos, his career as a used-car salesman was short-lived. In 2000, Stock Exposure, his first major venture, grossed $2 million at a time when scores of Internet companies were going under. Lemos, who started the company in 1998, cites the camaraderie between his 14 employees (none of whom are over age 26) as the key to Stock Exposure's success. "Our edge is that we're young and creative," he says. "We're friends in and outside of the company, and we all take pretty mild salaries-myself included. We know that when we make it big, we'll do it together."
Unlike most netpreneurs, Lemos funded Stock Exposure out of his own pocket. "You have to think your business can be successful without venture capital," he explains. "Since we didn't have any, we had to focus on turning a profit." -Peter Kooiman