When Jo Anne Schiller lost her job in publishing, she rejected retirement to start her own company, Everyday Learning, which develops a core curriculum in math for elementary schools. Naturally enough, she recruited her first sales reps from the ranks of the newly retired.

Schiller, 60, first hired a salesperson she knew from her old job, who tapped fellow retired reps and subsequently headed sales. The reps, aged 55 to 65, helped jump-start sales in nine regions in which they'd been working for years, including Illinois, New York, and Texas. They agreed to work on commission, since they had retired with pensions or accepted early retirement packages. "They could afford to take the time to help us build this up," says Schiller, president and CEO.

The marketing and customer service managers were also plucked from retirement and given equity in the Chicago company. With about 120 employees, Everyday Learning is in the black--and on the blackboards in 100,000 classrooms.