In the Groove
What: Hip-hop community website and e-newsletter
Who: Felicia Palmer and Steven Samuel of SOHH.com
Where: Jersey City, New Jersey
When: Started in 1993
Startup costs: Less than $500
A lot has changed for Felicia Palmer and Steven Samuel since they started SOHH.com in 1993. Back then, the site was known as Support Online Hip-Hop and was simply a place where the two could post newsletters and run an online bulletin board about hip-hop music and the community. Using Samuel's home computer, they built the site themselves from scratch. "We picked up a book on HTML and pretty much figured out how to launch the site in a week," Samuel, 35, says.
Now SOHH.com is a vibrant urban media company boasting 2006 sales of more than $1.5 million. Palmer says the company owes its growth to word-of-mouth popularity and a resurgent interest in online companies from advertisers after the dotcom bust. "We never really spent any money [on marketing]," says Palmer, 37. It was unique and interesting content, such as hip-hop awards when the hip-hop scene was still emerging, that drove visitors to SOHH.com--and kept them coming back.
The site has branched out from its bulletin board roots: It now features daily music news, artist interviews, blogs and downloadable content.