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Nathaniel Stevens, 25
New York City
This is Stevens' second time as a finalist. In 2005, the then-Wharton undergraduate launched an advertising-services venture that helps local businesses bolster their online advertising presence. Clients pay Yodle whenever a customer calls them after seeing their 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.
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," he says. At the same time, the employee base has more than tripled over the last year, growing to 175 in August. The company is now partnering with MSN (MSFT) and Yahoo! Local (YHOO).