Vital Stats: Seth Ratner, 28, founder and president of Nood� Skincare in New York City
Company: Skin-care line for women
Estimated 2003 Sales: $2.5 million
Executive Wash: As a car wash entrepreneur during college, Ratner so impressed one client that the client arranged for him to meet with the owner of Zirh Skin Nutrition. Though Ratner knew nothing about skin care, he plunged headfirst into learning about the industry as Zirh's vice president of new business development. Realizing his talent and passion for the business, Ratner struck out on his own with Nood� in 2001, shortly after Zirh was acquired by Shiseido Co. Ltd., Japan's largest cosmetics company.
Forever Young: Ratner set his sights on the market of 15- to 29-year-old females, developing a skin-care line sold in department stores but with a lower price point than the heavy hitters. Focusing on problematic combination skin rather than age defiance, he says, "The goal behind the brand was not just to stay in the younger arena, but to eventually break out through the quality of the products. A younger consumer buys the body oil, and her older sister or mother asks [to] try it and winds up falling in love."
"I consider my demographic the high school/college 'I have my first job and like to shop for good things but don't really have the money' category."
All About Me: "I wanted the brand to be a fine line between fun and cool, without being a novelty item," says Ratner. Coining and trademarking the term "Generation Me," Nood�'s products have humorous, even risqu�, names like Scrub Me Gently, Clean Me and Rub Me.
Take Notes: Now teaching an entrepreneurship class at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, Ratner helps students realize their dreams and gets feedback on his products, too. He's already created two new products based on the input.