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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
Entrepreneur: Austin Shoemaker, 25
Funding: $18.5 million from Kleiner Perkins, DAG Ventures, the Westly Group, and T-Mobile's T-Venture
Cooliris' tool, which can be added to a Web browser, makes it easier to collect and view digital or online photos and video in a compelling, 3D format. The plug-in has been downloaded more than 12 million times. Its iPhone app has been downloaded 800,000 times. The company expects to make money through ads and by linking users to shopping sites. "It's almost like walking down the aisle of a highly relevant store," says Chief Technology Officer Shoemaker.
Lessons learned: "It's really important to focus on solving a fundamental problem," Shoemaker says. "If you create something that's really valuable, that's probably the best way to survive. We exist to change the world."