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"These colleges are ranked the top in the country, and it's surprising to me that they can't send out a simple email."
Customer service is one area where small businesses can beat big-box competitors
Nathaniel Stevens, 25
New York, N.Y.
In 2005, Wharton undergraduate Nathaniel Stevens launched an advertising services business that helps local businesses bolster their advertising presence online. Clients pay Yodle whenever a customer calls the company after seeing the company's online ad (positioned and search engine optimized by Yodle.) The company received a round of venture financing in November 2006. Last October, Yodle had 55 employees and hoped to have 1,000 customers by the end of 2007.
More expansion: In November 2007, Stevens' company landed a $12 million round of additional venture funding. Now the company is on track for over $20 million in revenue in 2008, up from about $3 million the previous year, says Stevens. "More inspiring is that we're in a downward economy here, and even with that the business has been quite resilient," says Stevens. At the same time, the employee base has more than tripled over the last year, growing to 175 in August, up from 55 the previous year. The company is now partnering with MSN and Yahoo Local.