Innovation stems from creative thinking, blatant risk taking or, as in Chinedu Echeruo's case, sheer frustration. Echeruo, 33, was so tired of battling New York City's complicated subway maze that, in 2004, he launched HopStop.com, an online city transit guide that provides free door-to-door subway and bus directions--and relief for riders. Since then, he has introduced additional services enabling users to send a text message or call for on-the-go assistance.
The concept may seem simple, but the mechanics behind HopStop.com are impressively complex. The site requires more than 1 million lines of code, complex data analysis, and 10 employees expertly trained in computer science and programming to keep it on track. "There's an incredible amount of work and data, and it has taken us a long time to figure out how to do it effectively," says Echeruo, who now licenses the technology so other companies can integrate the data on their websites. Thanks to a user base of more than 1 million and expansion into additional cities, 2006 sales are set to reach $4 million.