Friday, March 30, 2007

Business project 3

Thomas Gorny, 30
iPower
Phoenix
Projected 2006 Sales: More than $40 million
Description: Web hosting and services

Across Countries: Thomas Gorny spent the first 14 years of his life in Poland. A move to Germany found him attending a prestigious business college and running his own PC hardware business. Then, two months before graduation, he dropped out and sold his business for very little money to seize an opportunity to immigrate to America. The risk paid off not once, but twice.

First Time Around: Gorny joined one of the very first web hosting companies in 1996 and earned 20 percent ownership. The company was sold in 1998, and when Gorny left in 1999, he was in the money. “I never thought I’d go back to web hosting,” he says. So he jumped into marketing and real estate, but when the bubble burst in 2001, his stocks dropped and his real estate projects suffered. “I just got involved with the wrong people in business,” says Gorny, who lost everything.

Second Time Around: “Being on an investor visa, I couldn’t even go to work for somebody because I didn’t have a work permit,” Gorny says. After re-examining the hosting market, he realized there was room for a company offering web hosting and site building for nontechnical users. Armed with his American Express card, Gorny willed iPower into existence in late 2001. “I said to myself, ‘If we can acquire 10 customers a day, I’m going to be in heaven.’” The company garnered 60,000 customers in its first year. Now with more than 500,000, iPower recently moved its headquarters from Santa Monica, California, to Phoenix.

No Exit: “One thing I said at the beginning is that I do not have an exit strategy, and I’m holding to [that]. That is a powerful thing,” says Gorny. His business is now the world’s fourth-largest website hosting company, thanks in part to Gorny’s vision of offering feature-rich but also easy-to-use hosting packages. Phoenix may be a long way from Poland, but Gorny has definitely found a place to call his own.

Follow His Lead: Turn adversity into opportunity by revisiting your business strengths and taking cues from your past successes.

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