And now for something totally different . . . we couldn't resist throwing in this dark-horse idea, because, frankly, it's something we're dying to use.
Here's how it works: For a small fee, customers can call a human search engine company's 800 number to help them find information they need from the Web, whether it's directions to the DaimlerChrysler building for a lost cab driver, how much caffeine a certain product contains or who designed a gown they saw on the Emmys. It's not hard to see that plenty of people would forsake a cumbersome Internet search for this more convenient service.
One company has a jump-start on offering this . . . and benefiting from it, too. INetNow, a Los Angeles-based human "voice portal" company, has grown considerably since opening its doors in late 1999--it started with three employees, now has 55 and, by the end of the year, should employ more than 400 people.
"Many of us depend on information from the Internet every day. When we leave our desks and don't have access to the information, we want it," says Michael Evans, 35, iNetNow vice president of marketing and communications. "And our company delivers it."
Melissa Campanelli is Entrepreneur's "Net Profits" and "Net Sales" columnist.
- ASP Industry Consortium , email@example.com
- Current Analysis , (888) 419-2200, www.currentanalysis.com
- iNetNow , (888) I-NET-NOW, www.inetnow.com
Melissa Campanelli is a technology writer in Brooklyn, New York, who has covered technology for Mobile Computing & Communications and Sales & Marketing Management magazines. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.