When e-commerce was coming of age, so was Jared Isaacman. In 1999, while other New Jersey kids were shooting hoops after school, the 16-year-old was working part-time in the IT department of a nearby credit-card processing firm. There, he discovered a critical industry secret: "They were 20 years behind in technology and had to outsource almost everything they did," says Isaacman, now 23.
Another tech-savvy, dot-com era teen dumping on his corporate elders? Hardly. Within a year, Isaacman struck out on his own, fully believing a credit-card processing business with in-house systems -- from automated reporting and tracking, to online sales, marketing, and customer service -- could do more with less and outpace the competition by days, if not weeks.
He was right. Soon, United Bank Card, the company he bypassed college to found in 2000, was attracting upwards of 300 new clients a month, processing credit-card transactions for restaurants, liquor stores, and other brick-and-mortar merchants. By 2003, a top trade magazine ranked the then-unknown company No.1 in customer service, more than doubling its client accounts overnight.
Today, United Bank Card has some 45,000 clients -- including Burger King, Ferrari, and other corporate-world VIPs -- processing more than $4 billion in transactions every year and earning a spot at No. 19 on the Inc. 500. The company brings in 3,000 new clients every month with its network of independent salespeople and has since diversified into ATM transactions. Yet, Isaacman says he doesn't worry about finding new clients, because the market he serves is itself growing. "This country is filled with entrepreneurs and there are thousands of new small businesses every day," Isaacman says. "That's our business growing, too."