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College Entrepreneurs Create Software to Help Businesses Thrive How three UPenn students created Airtime, a program that creates banners that turn e-mail signatures into branded messages.

By Jodi Helmer

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

To Dan Shipper, those few lines at the bottom of a digital message offer significant untapped potential. "Companies that aren't taking advantage of e-mail signatures to promote their products and services are missing out on opportunities to connect with their customers," he says.

The 21-year-old junior at the University of Pennsylvania began writing code when he was 10. After creating and selling several successful websites, Shipper was ready for a new project. In 2011 he partnered with Patrick Leahy and Justin Meltzer, both seniors majoring in entrepreneurship at the Wharton School at UPenn, to develop Airtime, a program that creates banners that turn e-mail signatures into branded messages.

Airtime allows brands to develop multiple banners for their e-mail signatures and track the number of impressions and click-through rates for each. After a brief beta period to test the concept, the UPenn entrepreneurs launched the company (airtimehq.com) in January 2012. Within weeks the program had attracted international clients.