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Making Overtures

Fast new browser, survey your customers, online retail shops.
September 1, 1998
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/16370

Rooting for the little guy is the entrepreneurial way. And for Web surfers who want to walk that walk, the browser of choice has to be Opera Software (http://www.operasoftware.com), made by a small software outfit in Kjeller, Norway, with only 11 employees. Unlike the big guys, Opera isn't free. After 30 days, you pay $35 for a license or it fizzles into extinction.

But many who try it are buying this extremely small (less than 1MB, compared to more than 10MB for the competitors) and fast browser that's capable of handling pretty much everything Web designers throw at it, from Java to Active X. Another plus: Because the program is so diminutive, it can even run on old 386SX machines (both Windows 95 and Windows 3.1 versions are available).


To contact Robert McGarvey, visit his Web site at http://members.aol.com/rjmcgarvey

Ask Around

W ant to know why visitors stop at your Web site--and why they buy? Try asking them--they just might give you the information you need to achieve greater success. Sure, customer surveys are known for being expensive, but they're not when you're doing much of the survey creation yourself. Costs are further minimized by using the Net as your chief tool for contacting customers.

At least that's the promise of NetReflector's InstantSurvey (http://www.instantsurvey.com), which has concocted an online tool to help small-business owners get the feedback they need. Survey setup requires little technical know-how, and the cost for a completed survey can be as low as $40. Templates are available for simple, easy-to-create surveys, but there's plenty of freedom to create customized surveys, too. Once responses come in, NetReflector organizes the data into a detailed report and also provides the raw responses for your review. Skeptical? Visit its Web site--a free trial survey of up to 25 people is yours for the asking.

Shop Talk

T hink setting up an online retail shop is too complicated and expensive? For an easy, low-cost solution, check out GeoCities' new GeoShops program (http://www.geocities.com). GeoShops merchants get 15MB of server space, a personal URL, unlimited e-mail aliases, and access to all the tools used by the more than 1.5 million GeoCities "residents" to set up personal Web sites. The price? Just $24.95 per month, plus a $100 fee to register your domain name. A credit card merchant account is available for a $120 setup fee plus a monthly charge of $80, or $40 plus 5 percent of transactions, whichever is higher.

GeoCities is betting that GeoShops will be a winner--it projects that participating shops together will do about $10 million in sales in their first year. Indeed, traffic will be high--GeoCities gets more than 650 million page views per month and ranks among the most-visited sites.

Fast Track

Name: Joe Pickerelli

Company name and description: Mobile Guitar Repair is a one-man, one-van business. Pickerelli roams New York and New Jersey in a van, providing house calls to people with guitars, banjos, violins and other stringed instruments in need of repair.

Based: Landing, New Jersey

Founded: 1989

Strumming up business: After playing in bands for many years, Pickerelli knew all about guitars and how they break. In 1989, he quit his day job (he was a metallurgist) and set up a guitar repair shop. One day, as a mobile glass repairman was fixing a broken window on his truck, a thought flashed through Pickerelli's mind: "glass repair . . . guitar repair." Why not? He loaded $12,000 worth of repair gear in his van and hit the road with what he calls "the world's first mobile guitar repair service." A big plus: Pickerelli is ready to call on bands in bars, homes, studios or concert halls--wherever that night's gig is.

Web site:http://members.bellatlantic.net/~picksmgr Check out the site--it's a low-budget but excellent case in point of what a small business can use the Web to do. Have an ailing guitar? Pickerelli gives free diagnoses of what might be wrong and how much a repair will cost.