Our first letter this month comes from a faraway Network reader with a suitably exotic problem -- finding American partners for a start-up in India. Other questions echo a more familiar theme: locating information about specific industries and business opportunities.

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Merchant Marine
I received my M.B.A. degree in March and now hope to join the ranks of young entrepreneurs here in India. I want to start a business in the 100% duty-free export zone. I am interested in marine sports -- yacht building and surfboard manufacturing, for example -- but I don't know how to contact American companies that would be interested in such a venture.

Minal Potnis

Mahim, Bombay


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Business Prescription
My pharmaceutical distribution company has been operating for about a year and a half. Our only source of business has been government contracts. Now, we would like to expand into supplying pharmacies, but we need a market analysis telling us what products to stock -- for example, a list of the 100 top-selling generic drugs in our region.

We have spoken to Pharmaceutical Data Services, in Phoenix, but its data cost too much for a small company like ours and are not specific enough anyway. The information we need must exist somewhere.

Stephen Castorino


Excelsior Pharmaceuticals

Haddonfield, N.J.

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On Guard
We opened our small private investigation company in 1986. Every year we have grown at a reasonable rate, 35% to 40%, but have just broken even or made only a small profit. Now, we want to double or triple the company's size annually and see a substantial profit at year's end. To do this, we are trying to expand our client base among insurance carriers and law firms. We also want to branch out into contract guard work. We have the license to provide that service, but we don't know how to bid for these particular jobs. Does anyone, within the industry or not, have suggestions?

Steven G. Handlin


Bolt Claims Bureau Co.

Bayside, N.Y.

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The Literary Life
I am a voracious reader, and I believe that a small bookstore in the right location can compete with the large chains. (When I travel, I search out the smaller stores because of their superior selection.) I have found an excellent location for such a store in the center of my affluent hometown. Two elementary schools and a high school are within walking distance. It is surrounded by antique stores, upscale dress shops, and the like; and it is across from a successful restaurant, where customers face a 30- to 45-minute wait and spend it browsing along Main Street.

Since I have no retail sales experience, I would appreciate information regarding book distributors, trade associations, start-up costs, and anything else that might be relevant.

Christopher Phillips

Brookside, N.J.

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Empty Space
Here in the northern plains, downturns in the oil, agriculture, and manufacturing industries have left many buildings vacant. The buildings are fairly new, heated, and located on major highways. I want to find out whether there is a market for warehousing and whether these buildings are suitable. I feel I could offer storage and dispatching at a competitive price.

Glen Hochhalter

Dickinson, N.D.