It Takes A Village
This 3-year-old "network of online communities" started with a $1 million investment and a distribution agreement with America Online that gave the Web site enviable positioning. "That distribution deal meant we would have traffic from day one," says co-founder and CEO Carpenter, who cites consulting work she did for AOL as one reason her New York City-based firm obtained the Internet giant's backing.
Carpenter founded iVillage.com with Nancy Evans, 48, and Robert Levitan, 37, to provide Web content for women in what was then a heavily male-dominated medium. The site is arranged in channels that address issues like parenting, relationships, health, fitness, food, money and careers.
One channel addresses business ownership topics. "The idea behind Work from Home is teaching women how to start, nurture and grow a [homebased] business," says Shelley Pyne-Hanley, who produces the Work from Home channel. "We target women from those just kicking ideas around to those who have a business and may be wondering how to market it or how to organize a filing system." According to Pyne-Hanley, Work from Home includes two major features that change daily--a message board and a feature article on a topic related to homebased work issues.
Carpenter is bullish on the future of iVillage, both as a business prospect and as a resource for women: "We want to continue to be the dominant women's brand [on the Internet] and to help women solve their everyday problems."
Name and age: Ella Koscik, 34
Company name and description: Management Decisions Inc. (MDI) is a staffing company for information technology (IT) specialists like programmers and analysts.
Based: Norcross, Georgia
The challenge: To transform a sleepy staffing company into a market leader
The story: MDI was founded in 1988 by entrepreneur Howard Leff. Koscik joined the business in 1993 and bought it out a year later--while still in her 20s--using revenue the company made on sales she generated.
The results: In less than four years, Koscik has turned a $1 million company into a $14 million business.
1998 sales projections: $20 million
Number of MDI IT specialists in 1994: 10
Number of MDI IT specialists today: 200
Smart move: Koscik decided early on to defer to the expertise of others. "I don't hire people who do what I do well. I hire people who do what they do well," she says.
Survival tips: According to Koscik, hiring the right people, reinvesting in the business, and building a solid reputation by treating customers and employees like gold have helped the business thrive.
No end in sight: Koscik just opened a second office in Greenville, South Carolina, expects to open a third next year and hopes to eventually take MDI nationwide.
iVillage.com, (800) 977-1436, http://www.ivillage.com
Management Decisions Inc., (770) 416-7949, http://www.mdiatl.com