3rd Annual 10 Under 30

Laura Tidwell, 28

Laura TidwellCompany:Enginehouse Media, an interactive ad agency, and AdOctane, a media buying company, both in Troy, Alabama
2000 sales: approximately $10 million (combined sales)
2001 projections: $25 million (combined sales)

Dedication is working down to the wire to finish an important project. Sheer tenacity is closing an important deal in between contractions. Just ask Tidwell-she did just that in the early days of Enginehouse Media. "You do what you need to do," she says. "Even if that meant making that phone call to the client just minutes after I had my baby, that's what I had to do to make it work."

Making it work is what Tidwell's been doing since she started Enginehouse Media (formerly Advantage Advertising) in 1996. Operating out of her one-bedroom apartment proved to be challenging, but Tidwell managed to project the image of being a larger company. "Image was a hard [obstacle] to overcome," she says. "As a 22-year-old woman, I had to make the world think I was a huge company.without being dishonest."

Landing a few big accounts in the early days-among them Thomas Register of American Manufacturers and Encyclopedia Britannica-proved invaluable. Now 30 employees strong and with six remote offices, Enginehouse is growing solely with revenues, not with the help of venture capital. What's next for the CEO? Besides selling a projected $25 million worth of services this year-with the help of AdOctane, an automated system for media buying that Tidwell spun off into a separate company last year-Tidwell is expanding to include both online and offline media.

Even with her success, Tidwell has one regret: "I wish I would have known I could do it! I think fear slowed me down considerably in my first two years," she says. "Being able to visualize my success as an entrepreneur was the catapult that helped me take the company to the next level." -Nichole L. Torres

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This article was originally published in the April 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: 3rd Annual 10 Under 30.

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