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Your Butt on the Line

Hate to burst your balloon, but you'll have to risk your money to raise money.

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This story appears in the July 2000 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Brian Jersey had it all. A rising young executive, Jersey was the director of marketing for Prodigy Internet in White Plains, New York. There he had his own secretary and oversaw a $40 million budget, two ad agencies and a staff of seven. And he had the kind of salary and bonus package that came with the job-circa 1995, that is, before Internet option mania took hold of the country.

Call it the inexplicable entrepreneurial spirit, but Jersey, now 39, chucked it-job security and all-in 1996 to start 1-800 BIRTHDAY, a reminder service that would also sell gifts. Jersey felt that 1-800 BIRTHDAY had the same potential as 1-800-FLOWERS, except in a niche that had yet to be exploited.

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