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Brent Bannerman

36, founder of IE-Engine in Waltham, Massachusetts

Description:business insurance and benefits software developer

Start-up: $6 million in 2000

Sales: 2003 projected sales of $10 million

The Insider: Though technology has infiltrated many aspects of business, it's been slow to affect corporate HR management. Bannerman's experience in sales, marketing and e-business strategy development with insurance carriers gave him the inside track. Says Bannerman, "I was familiar with how inefficient corporations' purchasing processes were."

Loosening Up: IE's software allows an HR department to use its Web-based application to run bidding events for benefits plans. As vendors compete for contracts, the stranglehold that providers, brokers and consultants once had on businesses loosens, resulting in lowered costs.

Paperless Trail: IE's data warehouse holds information for a firm's employee benefit plans digitally. Authorized employees can access and edit information, and companies cut down on paper. By September 2001, IE had 150 benefits suppliers and was helping to insure 500,000 people.

Converts: "When [we had] a booming economy, corporations weren't keeping their eye on [benefits] expenses," Bannerman says. Dow Chemical, Gerber Scientific and Staples were among IE's first customers, and, though Owens and Corning are bankrupt, they've also joined. IE is in discussions to possibly license the technology to other businesses that will help small businesses use it.

This story appears in the June 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »