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Students Follow 'Net Start-Up Dreams

By Zubin M. Teja, CONTRIBUTING WRITER

In 1975, a short, freckled teenager named Bill Gates, Class of 1977, left the Harvard campus with a dream of starting his own software company. More than 20 years later, three Harvard students are starting their own high-tech venture in hopes of making their own mark on the on-line industry.

On April 15, Sean D. Carmody '01, Gregory L. Hart '01 and Ashley C. Keller '01 will unveil the official version of ivypreps.com, an Internet Web site which will enable college students to quickly and efficiently access reviews and purchasing information for various goods and services.

"We felt that many college students were so busy with their academics and extra-curricular activities that they didn't have the time to research these products for themselves," Carmody said.

Currently in its early stages, the site's only reviews are for classical music and Cuban cigars. But the trio hopes it will eventually take on the full range of products that college students buy.

Carmody hopes the site will evolve into one students will look to for answers to "all of their concerns--from purchasing products to accessing latest news and events information." Like portal pages developed by msn.com and yahoo.com, individuals will be able to customize ivypreps.com to fit their needs.

The three sophomores came up with the idea for their business in January.

"We were just relaxing one Tuesday afternoon in when we decided that starting a business to run a Web site like this would be something that would be interesting and compatible with the type of people that we are," Keller said.

The three have always had a "dormant entrepreneurial interest" and wanted to review products that interested them, Carmody said. He hopes their unique idea will allow the site to become a quick market leader.

"The Internet economy is such that the first provider of a service is normally the one which achieves the most success and turns into the market leader," he said.

Though none of the three has an extensive background in computer science, all have easily handled the site's initial technological development.

The work has been very intense, though, according to Keller.

"When we were coming up with the idea we were just looking for a way to make use of our spare time, but lately it has been cutting into our time as we have been busy getting everything organized," Keller said.

The group is so dedicated to making their business a success that they are contemplating spending the summer in Cambridge to work on it, Keller said.

The research and Web site update process, whichCarmody said takes place almost daily, involvespicking a product which is popular among collegestudents, researching the topic and then finallyputting the information on-line.

Keller said he hopes that they will add reviewsof books, clothes, drinks in the next few week,and will eventually provide information aboutparties and events in the area a customer is from.

They plan to draw revenue by sellingadvertising space to outside companies. The rateswill be based on the site's popularity. The sitecurrently gets about 5,000 hits per month.

"We have high hopes for our business, but weare just in the beginning stages and are justwaiting to make dollar number one," Carmody said

The research and Web site update process, whichCarmody said takes place almost daily, involvespicking a product which is popular among collegestudents, researching the topic and then finallyputting the information on-line.

Keller said he hopes that they will add reviewsof books, clothes, drinks in the next few week,and will eventually provide information aboutparties and events in the area a customer is from.

They plan to draw revenue by sellingadvertising space to outside companies. The rateswill be based on the site's popularity. The sitecurrently gets about 5,000 hits per month.

"We have high hopes for our business, but weare just in the beginning stages and are justwaiting to make dollar number one," Carmody said

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