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Personalized Service Online

Avatars let your customers spread the word about you.

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This story appears in the January 2007 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Imagine someone wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with your company name--all day, every day--then sharing the shirt with thousands of friends. It might sound like a marketer's pipe dream, but with avatars--the little talking, animated characters representing users that are popping up all over the web--such dreams can come true.

Sean Ryan, founder of San Francisco based Meez.com, is witnessing the trend firsthand with his online avatar service. "We're seeing interest from companies looking for cost-effective ways to reach out to consumers online," says Ryan, 38, who launched Meez in March 2006 and has raised more than $5.3 million in venture funding. "It's harder and harder to reach people under 30," he says, and avatars are one way to do just that.

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