How does a start-up manage to number among its clients 27 of the top 50 Fortune 500 companies? Stanley Anderson, the founder of ProCard Inc., in Golden, Colo., will tell you it's a classic case of having the right product at the right time. After 30 years in banking he saw a niche in the giant category of low-dollar procurement (bankspeak for corporate purchasing transactions less than $10,000), a worldwide annual market of $400 billion. A major oil company, for example, typically makes 3 million transactions per year of $1,000 or less, at an average cost of $62 per transaction. The ProCard Purchasing System is designed to reduce those costs by a minimum of 20%. How? ProCard is the first card designed specifically for procurement, or corporate purchasing transactions. Carrying the MasterCard logo, ProCard looks like an ordinary credit card, but it offers the cardholder significantly greater levels of reporting, with controls limiting the number, size, and frequency of transactions, and detailing critical supplier information like vendor volume or tax-exempt purchase data. Corporate costs are lowered through increased efficiency and reduced paperwork; and payment to the vendor or supplier is received within 24 to 36 hours, versus the typical 45-to 60-day invoice cycle. Anderson is deliberately limiting to 10 the number of banks ProCard licenses until January 1993, in order to support member banks' sense of exclusivity. Member banks -- which include Security Pacific/Bank of America and Nation's Bank -- pay ProCard a five-year licensing fee of $265,000. Anderson projects 1992 revenues of $3 million and has a five-year goal of capturing 10% of that $400-billion market.

-- Allesandra Bianchi