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HOT DOGS AND DOT-COMS
By Lauren Ohayon

What does a street vendor selling sandwiches have in common with a dot-com CEO? The CEO will be eating a lot of shish kebabs if his start-up isn't very successful. But there's more than meets the eye.

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Earlier in the season, THAT MONEY SHOW took a look at two businessmen trying to make it in the big city. In the cutthroat environment of New York, the world of small businesses can be quite risky, or very lucrative.

Ali Khan's background may have prepared him for the challenge of selling sandwiches on Wall Street. "I got my bachelor degree in accounting from Pakistan. I had in mind from the beginning, when I established myself that I'm going to start my own business." If business remains profitable, and Ali conducts his finances properly, he would like to open his own restaurant.

Greg Easley is also attempting to start small and make it big. He is the founder and CEO of Bottle Rocket, a company that produces customized games for the Web. "Bottle Rocket creates games that serve as marketing vehicles for our clients," Easley explains. With a client roster that includes the National Football League and HBO, there seems to be little room for failure. But half of all new businesses do fail.

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In the days of the shaky dot-coms, Easley's business seems riskier than a food vendor's does. With the NASDAQ (the exchange on which many tech stocks are traded) continuing to fluctuate, Easley has yet to show a profit, and he's got a staff of more than thirty employees to pay. On the other hand, there will always be hungry traders for Khan to feed. After the initial pushcart purchase, profits are gravy -- and he only has a staff of one. At Bottle Rocket, Easley continues to remain confident: "If we continue with this business model and begin to show profits and attract bigger clients, we might be in a position to have a strategic partner or buyer."

And Greg was right -- the business model turned out to be a big winner after all. Approximately one month after our interview, Greg Easley got what he wished for. Bottle Rocket was purchased by ACTV for an undisclosed amount of money. Easley added as an afterthought that the purchase could not have come at a better time, and that Bottle Rocket can now receive the financial and management support required to help it grow further.




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